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In truth, 30 NBA teams would all but move heaven and earth to make room for LeBron James on their roster.
Frank Urbina took an excellent in-depth look at where James could wind up next season, if he as expected declines the $35.6 million player option on his contract and came up with nine possible landing spots for the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar.
The eight other possible destinations Urbina outlines — other than remaining with the Cavaliers, with whom he’s played 11 of the 15 seasons in his spectacular career — are the Los Angeles Clippers, the Miami Heat, the San Antonio Spurs, the Golden State Warriors, the Houston Rockets, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics.
“Some pundits expect the 14-time All-Star to find a new home this offseason, one where he can be surrounded by a stronger supporting cast in hopes of winning another championship or two before his play finally starts to taper off,” Urbina writes. “At the same time, it’s hard to imagine James leaving the team in his home state for the second time in his career.
“And if he needed even more motivation to stay with the Cavs than that, it should also be noted that Cleveland can offer him the most money on his next contract thanks to the way the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is set up.”
Here’s what Urbina laid out in regards to the 33-year-old James re-signing with the Cavaliers:
The place where James has spent 11 years of his career, where he’s made countless memories including a 2016 championship, likely has a leg up in re-signing the generational superstar because they can offer him the most money.
But it’s not quite the financial disparity the Cavs probably wish it was.
With eight percent annual increases as opposed to five, on a three-year deal with a player option on Year-3, Cleveland can offer James $114.8 million, which is just $3.4 million more than any non-Cavs team.
Sure, if we get more in depth and start comparing four-year contracts, the disparity does grow a bit – from a difference of $3.4 million to $6.8 million – but the fact James probably wouldn’t accept a five-year deal (the main advantage most free agents’ current teams have over outside suitors), not with how the cap is projected to continue getting richer, thus making max contracts much more valuable going forward, could wind up hurting the Cavaliers’ chances of re-signing their best player ever.
It’s not like James has shown much in the way of slowing down. Father Time may be undefeated, but Father Time hasn’t faced off against a freak like LeBron yet.
So without much of a financial advantage and due to how… shaky Cleveland looked throughout this past season prior to getting swept by the Warriors in the 2018 Finals, never showing much of a real shot at contending for a title, we could very well be seeing James’ time in Northeast Ohio come to an end.
Or, perhaps content with living in his home state on a team that’s a contender for, at the very least, the Eastern Conference crown every year, James could be fine sticking it out with the Cavaliers.