LeBron James is playing in his eighth straight NBA finals, but most fans want to talk about what James will be doing in a few weeks. Many expect James to opt out of his current contract allowing him to become a free agent this summer. As the Warriors and Cavs square off for another championship, Heavy is going to highlight some of the top teams James could sign with this summer. First up is the Sixers, who Spotrac estimates will have $30.5 million in cap space this summer. This is a little less than what James can command, but Philadelphia could make a trade to clear a few million if King James comes calling.
James has been mostly quiet about his future plans, only saying that his family and winning will be the top priorities when he makes his decision. As he has proven with this year’s depleted Cavs roster, James immediately makes any team he plays on a title contender. While this is true, the Sixers give him the best chance to win both now and in the future.
Ben Simmons (21) and Joel Embiid (24) are just entering their primes. Normally, veteran players prefer to play with players a bit older, but the duo has already proven they can win a lot of games at this stage of their career. The Sixers received valuable playoff experience this past year, despite coming up short against the Celtics in the second round. Here’s what a starting five with James on the Sixers could look like.
Sixers Starting Lineup With LeBron James
The addition of James would likely mean the J.J. Redick era would come to an abrupt end after just one season. In addition to Embiid and Simmons, the Sixers have other talent which includes Dario Saric and Robert Covington. There is also the possibility James could transition to power forward for the final few years of his career, giving the Sixers a bit more lineup flexibility. Philadelphia also has two first round picks in June’s draft, including the No. 10 pick, which the team could use to add more young pieces, or float in potential trade offers. We have not even mentioned last year’s No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz, who had a disappointing rookie season, but injuries contributed to the point guard getting off to a slow start.
Sixers coach Brett Brown made it clear, without naming names, the team will make a push to sign James. According to Sports Illustrated, Blazers guard C.J. McCollum noted on the Pull Up podcast that the Sixers are a real contender to sign James, noting the tie-in between Simmons and Klutch Sports.
He’s always [been] calculated about his decision-making process going back to his youth. Ben [Simmons] is his young guy. Ben is a member of Klutch Sports, so that also could play a factor. Philly is in the Eastern Conference. LeBron has been fond of the Eastern Conference throughout his career on what seems to be his EZ-Pass to the Finals. I think it’s a bigger possibility than people think. I’m not sure if they have the space financially for that. Obviously, they have a lot of guys on rookie deals right now. But they would need to get some more shooters in there if they do want to bring Bron in.
To be clear, McCollum saying the Sixers are in contention does not necessarily mean James will sign with Philly. Plenty of people (rightly or wrongly) have opinions on where James will end up next season. What it does speak to is the perception around the league that the Sixers have a legit chance to sign James. After the the Sixers and Cavs played earlier this season, Embiid made a not so subtle reference to attempting to get James to join the team in free agency.
There are questions about the Sixers being a fit for James. Simmons and James both are at their best with the ball in their hands, and it would take some work to figure out how the two players co-exist on the court together. There are also other suitors like the Lakers, who are looking to sign James along with another star player this summer. James would enter a Sixers roster that he would have little input on. With a handful of other teams, James could hand pick another top free agent he wants to play with.
For all the risks, the positives far outweigh the negatives. To win a title, you have to play in the finals, and James has done so eight straight times. The East has and will continue to give him the best chance to compete for championships. The Sixers have cap space, a competitive roster, multiple star players and play in the East. Playing with top players like Simmons and Embiid, could help extend James career.
If James’ top priority is winning more championships, it is time for him to trust the process, and head to Philadelphia.