By Vince Quinn
LeBron James to Cleveland is a fantasy. It’s the bedtime story that you read to your kids so that they can believe in heroes and unicorns and endless dollar dog nights. However, the reality of the situation is ‘The Decision’ happened, Cleveland still sucks, and their owner is a clueless buffoon. The Cavaliers are a hilariously bad choice for the King at this point in his career.
So where should LeBron go? There are three realistic possibilities.
1. LeBron leaves Miami to build a new Super Power
Given the aging of Dwyane Wade (Yes, that’s how you spell it) and lack of depth, LeBron sees his legacy fading in Miami and hits the road to form a new perennial contender. While he’ll be heavily courted by all 29 other teams, two teams truly stand above the rest: Houston and Chicago. Both towns offer a large market, depth on the bench, and the star power to form another Big Three.
In the Windy City, LeBron would play alongside former MVP Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. Together, they’d be the best team in the frail Eastern Conference and routinely own one of the top two playoff seeds, making for an easy journey to the Finals.
In Houston, LeBron would team-up with James Harden, 24, and Dwight Howard, 28, to form the best trio in the West. LeBron’s transcendent skill paired with Harden’s elite scoring and Howard’s defensive presence would be a truly dominant threesome, playing in its prime. They would have every opportunity to compete for a title year in and year out under their analytically-minded general manager, Daryl Morey. It’s about as good a fit as you can ask for and, if it comes to it, LeBron ultimately heads to Houston.
2. LeBron stays put, despite the Spurs’ thrashing
The NBA Finals were devastating for James. The 4-1 catastrophe demonstrated how LeBron was a conductor with no orchestra as his team failed to generate any points on their own. However, given that LeBron has blossomed in Miami he stays with Wade and Chris Bosh for the remainder of his prime.
Pat Riley is a major player here as well. Riley, the Heat’s GM, was pivotal in recruiting James and given the team’s four finals appearances in four years, it’s fair to say he’s done a good job. Given his track record of success—he’s been a part of nine championship teams—LeBron trusts that Riley can build another winner. The tax-free money doesn’t hurt either.
3. LeBron controls his own universe
In this storyline LeBron James—the 10 time All-Star, four time MVP and two time NBA Champion—comes to Philadelphia. On the surface it’s a head-scratcher. LeBron would rather binge watch ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ for days on end than play for one of the NBA’s worst teams, right? Wrong.
Philadelphia is an interesting option because the team is shapeless. With a lack of starting-caliber players and the salaries that pay them the Sixers are capable of anything and everything. In fact, their biggest financial concern last season was being below the salary floor. As a result, LeBron would have the potential to build his own team from scratch. The King would get what he wants.
You’d like to play with Carmelo Anthony? Done. Add Rajon Rondo to the mix in 2015? Why not? Heck, let’s make you another Harlem Shake video while we’re at it. Life’s a garden, dig it.
With LeBron in town, the Sixers would become a powerhouse overnight as a team tailored to his highness’ desires. There would be no concerns with Dwyane Wade and his aging knees or pressure from playing in the same town as Michael Jordan. Philadelphia would be a blank canvas to mold to his liking and—more importantly—it’s definitely not Cleveland.