As the young Philadelphia 76ers continue to impress, some are wondering if LeBron James will join Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid next season.
Former NBA player Brian Scalabrine recently said “that is the best place for him to go” because that team already has players who can shoot. Plus, he’d be able to play off Simmons and Embiid. Many others are starting to think it’s not an impossible scenario.
But it’s not the first time that this conversation has been brought up. Jason McIntyre wrote in July 2017 about why it could be a possibility (via The Big Lead):
“The East is certainly weaker than the West and LeBron could waltz to the Conference Finals with the 76ers. They’ll have enormous amounts of salary cap room next summer. They currently have zero bad contracts on the books.”
They would not have to sacrifice their depth as they would still have team options for their main glue guy (Justin Anderson) as well as a versatile player (Dario Saric) and depth (TJ McConnell and Richaun Holmes) as well.
That means the front office would still have $53 million to spend before they were a luxury tax offender. If they moved Jerryd Bayless for a future draft pick, that’d be $8 million more off the books.
As such, they’d have approximately $60 million to offer James and their final four more roster spots before having to pay the luxury tax bill. If James signed a supermax deal, they would likely be on the hook for $37.6 million per season.
They would then have $22.4 million for their final four roster spots and it’s possible two of those would come via the draft. It would be easy to convince players to join that core.
When the three-time NBA champion went to Summer League in July, many speculated he was watching Lonzo Ball and the Lakers. However, they were playing Philadelphia and he could have been there to watch their young core as well.
Tim Bontemps wrote about how the star power for the 76ers could be attractive to an upcoming free agent like James (via Washington Post)
“There were players involved Wednesday night who looked good enough to intrigue current stars — even stars at the level of an all-time great like James … Those players were Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid (46 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, seven blocks) and Ben Simmons (18 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists), who led the Sixers to a 115-109 win by making one jaw-dropping play after another.”
This team would have Simmons run the point with a fully healthy Markelle Fultz as their off-ball guard. James would take over as their small forward, adding unfathomable potency to their offense. James, who shares an agent with Simmons, would do wonders for the development of both players.
Their frontcourt would feature Embiid and Robert Covington, who are both locked in for the team on extended contracts. The teammates already have an established chemistry on the court.
Fultz and Covington are both more than capable of shooting from long distance and can spread the floor for this type of team.
But the most fascinating element is that James, Simmons and Embiid are three of the league’s Top 10 players for points in the paint per game. Right now, they’d combine for 40.3 points per game in the paint while shooting 70.6 percent from within five feet of the basket.
This team would do incredible damage against even the most impressive defense. But it’s worth mentioning that the Golden State Warriors currently rank No. 24 overall in points allowed in the paint, allowing 46.6 per night.
If they faced this Philadelphia team, they’d have a poor time near the basket as these teams would play two very different styles of basketball.
DunkWire, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless, Joel Embiid, Justin Anderson, LeBron James, Markelle Fultz, Richaun Holmes, Robert Covington, TJ McConnell, Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers