IMAGINE being so good at your job that you would happily turn down $35 million dollars. That is the enviable position LeBron James found himself in and today, James officially opted out of his player option with the Cavs, becoming an unrestricted free agent. Apparently ‘The King’ has narrowed his list of suitors down to two with the Los Angeles Lakers and his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers duking it out for his signature. If James was smart though he would be packing his bags for the Lone Star State.
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LET’S be honest, LBJ to LA is a done deal in the minds of many and the chance for a fresh start is on the forefront of LeBron’s mind. I think if he’s to remove himself from the Cavaliers his final chapter in the NBA should be alongside one of the best coaches in the league. Gregg Popovich is widely regarded as the smartest basketball mind of our generation and pairing him up LeBron, who’s own IQ tests off the charts would be both terrifying and beautiful to watch.
NO one would be upset with the prospect of seeing Pop and LeBron team up. The head Spurs guru is a five-time champion and has an NBA record 21 consecutive winning seasons. There’s no doubt he’s one of the greatest head coaches in NBA history and pairing him up with a basketball machine like LeBron as they both close their careers would be incredible. LeBron hasn’t really been blessed with the best head coaches during his tenure (no offense Erik Spoelstra) and they would instantly be one of the favourites to win it all regardless of who else is on the roster.
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SPEAKING of the roster, there’s no way to ignore the elephant in the room. The biggest roadblock in these plans is Kawhi Leonard’s trade request with the disgruntled forward asking to be traded to the Lakers. Since these reports surfaced there have been more rumours stating he never wants to step on the court for the Spurs again. Whatever fueled his likely bitter departure is alarming and these headlines aren’t usually associated with the San Antonio Spurs. If Leonard does leave then that would probably close off the chances of LeBron landing in San Antonio.
HOWEVER, even though LeBron would want Kawhi by his side, imagine if he had to play alongside an All-NBA forward in LaMarcus Aldridge and a young say Bradon Ingram or Lonzo Ball. If you then add a few smart pieces, then all of a sudden that team is still a chance. A potential starting five of Dejonte Murray, Ingram, LeBron, Aldridge and maybe Pau Gasol is pretty dangerous. We have seen time and time again that Pop can get the most out of any player and proven success snagging underrated free agents gives me confidence that they would add a few nice role players to help them contend.
SAN Antonio is a smart team though and Kawhi Leonard is still a contracted player for the 2018-19 season. Even though he seems to have cut his ties with the organisation once again Popovich has come out of this situation before. In fact, he managed to keep Aldridge from walking away and he turned in one of the best years of his career as a result. Leonard could be swayed, paving the way for them to pull the trigger on a LeBron move, launching them into contention.
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SHOULD the Spurs pull it off there is a bunch of ways the franchise can go. Don’t rule out a trade for another star or becoming a major player in 2019 free agency as well. LeBron would still have the chance to finish his legacy in style as well. He would remain a contender as long as Popovich was there and should he eventually depart who knows, maybe James even becomes a player-coach.
NOTHING is out of the possibility this offseason, even though as I said earlier, LeBron joining the Lakers is the most likely outcome. Signing in San Antonio would be a nice way to potentially see James go out. He could still win another ring or two and continue to chalk up milestones and records. Playing alongside his son has long been on his bucket list and doing so with the Spurs would be a solid closure to one of the greatest careers of all-time.
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