But outspoken TNT analyst Charles Barkley, who played in Philadelphia for the first eight seasons of his Hall of Fame NBA career, is adamant that James won’t be suiting up for the Sixers next season. “He’s not coming to the Sixers,” Barkley said Tuesday on The Mike Missanelli Show. “He’s not coming to the Sixers because he needs the ball, Simmons needs the ball and Embiid needs the ball. That would make Simmons useless.
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As everyone wonders where LeBron James will be next season, Eagles QB Carson Wentz told reporters that he’d be happy to help the 76ers convince James to sign with Philadelphia. Wentz, who was in Cleveland with Zach Ertz to see the Warriors sweep the Cavaliers in Game 4 of the NBA Finals last week, says he didn’t get to speak with James that night, but he hopes he knows they were there to watch him in person.
“Absolutely. I hope he’s coming,” Wentz said when asked if he’d be part of recruiting James if the Sixers asked him to help. “Ertz and I were there (at Game 4) the other night. Unfortunately, he lost and everything. I didn’t really care who won in that game. But just seeing that, seeing him live, we decided to make it a recruiting trip.”
LeBron James recruiting season is officially open, and Joel Embiid is wasting NO time in courting the King to jump to the city of brotherly love. We got Sixers superstar leaving Craig’s Friday night — a couple hours after the Cavs got swept out of the NBA Finals. — and asked him about the not-so-subtle tweet he fired off as the game was ending. Joel hinted on social media, but he was way more direct with our photog. As he walked out, we asked him to explain the “find a new slant” comment … and he said, LeBron needs to “find a new team … Sixers!”
Joel Embiid: Trust The Process!!!! Find a new slant @KingJames
Jon Johnson: David Griffin on Lebron James possibly to Sixers on @ZachGelb show on @CBSSportsRadio: “I do think it’s significant that Rich Paul is the representative for Ben Simmons as well, so he’s going to know the org very well. That will certainly give them a leg up”
Team president of basketball operation and general manager Bryan Colangelo said the Sixers could have roughly $25 million available in cap space to attract free agents. James is projected to make at least $35 million next season.
The answer, at least the top target, is clear as day, with James expected by all to decline his player option with the Cleveland Cavaliers and enter free agency. Brown can’t admit that LeBron’s the top target, at least not by name, but he still sort of did. “I’m not here to tell names,” Brown said on the topic, before acknowledging that the answer is an easy one to arrive at. “To me, the answer becomes clear.” After a long, somewhat awkward pause before the next question, Brown continued. “It’s true though, right? I mean, like, we don’t have to turn this into calculus. It’s quite clear.”
I will continue to trumpet the belief that James would be making a huge mistake to leave the Eastern Conference that he has dominated for years by joining the Houston Rockets or Los Angeles Lakers and potentially complicating his annual path to the championship round. But the Cavaliers suddenly look so rickety again that I now fully understand why whispers about the Philadelphia 76ers and their growing behind-the-scenes confidence that they can woo LeBron to Philly this summer are getting louder.
CJ McCollum thinks that LeBron James joining the Philadelphia 76ers next season “is a bigger possibility than people think.” On the premiere episode of the Pull Up podcast, McCollum reasoned that staying in the East, and playing alongside “his young guy” Ben Simmons could make Philly an attractive destination for LeBron (starting at 38:24).
Is there an actual chance LeBron goes to the 76ers? CJ McCollum: “He’s always (been) calculated about his decision-making process going back to his youth. Ben [Simmons] is his young guy. Ben is a member of Klutch Sports, so that also could play a factor. Philly is in the Eastern Conference. LeBron has been fond of the Eastern Conference throughout his career on what seems to be his EZ-Pass to the Finals. I think it’s a bigger possibility than people think. I’m not sure if they have the space financially for that. Obviously, they have a lot of guys on rookie deals right now. But they would need to get some more shooters in there if they do want to bring Bron in.”
There’s been whispers, mostly on social media, about whether LeBron James would consider the Spurs because of the mutual respect between James and Popovich, now the coach of the USA men’s basketball team. But I’ve consistently heard from multiple league sources that LeBron currently has only four teams on his list: the Cavaliers, Lakers, Rockets, and 76ers.
John Gonzalez: So now, people all of a sudden are talking about LeBron James [to Philadelphia]. I was shocked at Sloan [Conference] by how many conversations with people I had who went, ‘Yeah, he’s thinking about it.’ Before it just felt like Sixers fan fiction. And now, it’s like, maybe he could.
Emrani says he has paid to put up four billboards around Los Angeles trying to recruit James to join the Lakers in free agency in response to previous billboards erected in Cleveland and Pennsylvania trying to convince James to join the Sixers and remain with the Cavaliers, respectively. As the Cavaliers make their only trip of the regular season to Los Angeles to face the Clippers on Friday and the Lakers on Sunday, Emrani wants James to know he’s wanted in purple and gold. The Lakers have the ability to create as much as $70 million in cap space to pursue two max free agent stars like James and Oklahoma City’s Paul George this summer.
A few minutes after sending his first post, Embiid had another tweet, probably realizing the firestorm he had started. “It’s not what y’all think lol,” he wrote.
Billboards from Philly-based companies. An immensely talented and playoff-bound core. Embiid’s tweet. Philadelphia is doing its part to entice James. “He knows,” Simmons said when asked about whether James sees what’s happening with the Sixers. “He knows. He’s a very smart guy. His IQ on the court is amazing.”
No, LeBron James was not in Philadelphia over the All-Star break checking out schools for his children. “Pennsylvania? Nah. What are you talking about?” James said. “Over the All-Star break, I was on vacation and then went to Los Angeles.”
Jon Johnson: After speaking to several individuals around the league the past few days, Lebron to philly has a much higher percentage of happening than most think. One league source told me, “50/50.”
Rick Noland: LJ on billboards: “It’s not a distraction. It’s actually very flattering that I’m sitting here at 33 in my 15th year and … people in their respective city want me to play for them. That’s cool, I think. That’s dope.”
If James, who can become a free agent after this season, decides to leave the Cavaliers, he could – and should – consider the 76ers, and executives around the league believe Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo will attempt to sign James. The Sixers are an intriguing possibility, and if James’ goal remains competing for championships and Cleveland is no longer the place, the Sixers can make a compelling case.
There’s been some growing “LeBron to Philly” buzz for four reasons: the Sixers have enough cap space and trade assets to accommodate LeBron and the likes of, say, PAUL GEORGE; Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are two of the league’s best under-25 blue-chippers (young legs!); Klutch represents Simmons (hmmmmm); and NBA insiders have been gossiping about an increasingly cozy Philly–LeBron’s circle connection since November. You want a quality narrative? What about this one:
Alex: What do you think LeBron will do? If you had to make a prediction: Do you think he re-signs in Cleveland? Or does he go to Los Angeles, Houston? What do you think he does? Marc Spears: I think it depends on how he finishes. I believe the way they lost at the end last time—or perhaps he decided earlier—but it seems like both his departures came after hard season endings, although his mind may have been made up before. Like, for example, no one probably would have mentioned [Philadelphia] beforehand, but now Philly is interesting, right? People would have assumed Lakers before, but now ‘oh, no, he wouldn’t consider the Lakers.’ With him, I think it’s fluid. And I also think that if the Cavs were to get the No. 1 pick, you know, get a top top pick with that pick, that potentially he could get a young guy—like, what if he was able to get a top-three pick there? It might be more attractive to stay. With him, to be honest, I don’t know that there’s a good prediction to make because there’s too many different scenarios going on that could affect what he decides.
If LeBron James, who can become a free agent after this season, decides to leave the Cavaliers, he could – and should – consider the 76ers, and executives around the league believe Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo will attempt to sign James. The Sixers are an intriguing possibility, and if James’ goal remains competing for championships and Cleveland is no longer the place, the Sixers can make a compelling case.
Let’s start with rudimentary salary cap issues. The Sixers are one of a few teams who have significant salary cap space to use in the summer of 2018. They would need to make a few moves to get close to a $34 million max salary for James in year one, but it can be done. Let’s also point out that James on media day in September said nothing has happened that has changed his stance about finishing his career with the Cavaliers. He also said, “Anytime I’m able to be a free agent or my contract is ending, I’ll approach that when the summer comes.”
LeBron James and Ben Simmons share the same agent, Klutch Sports’ Rich Paul, and while that doesn’t guarantee anything, Paul can deliver to James insight about the Sixers’ operations. James is already a fan of Brett Brown, the Sixers’ coach. “The organization has done a great job believing in Brett Brown’s system, believing in what he wanted to do and they gave him time,” James said before the Cavaliers beat the Sixers 113-91 on Monday.
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June 18, 2018 | 8:19 pm EDT Update
Sagar Trika: Woj: Cleveland would love to package Kevin Love + #8 and get something on draft night, but that package likely won’t get them the star player they’re hoping for. Notes Kevin Love’s value is down and the Brooklyn first round pick is not as good as Cleveland had expected.
Sagar Trika: Woj: LeBron James’s decision won’t be quick and will likely stretch into July. Implication here is that it can’t be an opt-in-and-trade, as the player option deadline is June 29. Keep an eye on what he decides to do at the end of the month (a week from this upcoming Friday).
Mark Murphy: Stevens naturally wants Smart back: “Everybody in the building would tell you we would love to have Marcus back. Marcus has been great here – a big part of our DNA.”