By Joseph Santoliquito

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Before this goes any further, let’s just state right out there openly that LeBron James would make the Philadelphia 76ers a better basketball team, an NBA Finals contender and worthy enough to compete with the Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets and two-time defending champ Golden State Warriors.

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Let’s also state right out there openly that James is still the best basketball player in the world. For him to lug this version of the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals was a herculean task beyond reproach.

The reality that needs to be stated is that James is not coming to Philadelphia. Not with the Los Angeles Lakers in the picture, Houston Rockets, Boston Celtics and now the San Antonio Spurs. James’ choice will no doubt change the NBA scenery, the Sixers’ fanbase has every right to believe their team is as attractive a choice as the others.

James has until June 29 to opt out of the final year of his current contract with the Cavaliers. What can’t be ignored are the strong tremors that James will probably leave Cleveland a second time.

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The Celtics may have the best young core of talent, followed by the Sixers’ tandem of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. But there is no denying Boston is far deeper, with Kyrie Irving, someone James has won a championship with before, along with Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown.

James may be taking a good, hard look at what Simmons and Embiid are right now at this stage of their development. What they are is simple: Simmons is a gifted player who does everything exceptionally well—except the most important, he can’t shoot, and Embiid is exceptional in all things—when he’s healthy. He can’t stay on the floor. The Celtics’ grouping of Irving, Hayward, Tatum, Smart, Rozier and Brown certainly exceeds what the Sixers have in Simmons, Embiid, Robert Covington, J.J. Redick, Dario Saric, Markelle Fultz and T.J. McConnell.

If the Lakers can attract both Paul George and James, the Sixers may also have no chance of landing James. Houston is obviously attractive because of James Harden, Chris Paul, Clint Capela, and Trevor Ariza when thrown into a scenario.

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LeBron James wants to win now, not wait for when Ben Simmons learns how to shoot consistently, and Embiid can stay on the court for an entire NBA season.