The NBA Offseason is my favorite professional offseason, I think. Most sports have a relatively long down period between a final game and any relevant off-season front office movement. The NFL Draft happens two months after the Super Bowl, Major League Baseball’s draft happens in the middle of the season for some reason. The NBA Draft happens like next week, and the free agent signing period happens not ten days after that. The NBA matches the quick movement into the meaty part of the offseason with a fanbase whose time-killing discussions are relatively enjoyable, too.
Obviously there’s no shortage of asinine arguing about whether one would pick Michael Jordan over LeBron James over Kobe Bryant over Kiki Vandweghe or whoever, much like how there’s going to be a Brady/Manning debate until we die. This is why it also helps to be a fan of a sport like baseball where every great player also used some sort of drug – amphetamine, cocaine, steroids, whatever deer antler thing Mark McGwire used – so the argument gets convoluted before it can even begin. However, NBA fans find a way to make discussion enjoyable in a thoughtful sense, like just last week it was asked if a team would have a better defensive threat out of Andre Roberson or Isaiah Thomas with a gun.
Anyway, this is my humble attempt to add my own wrinkle to the debate over which team LeBron James should choose to play for next season. The Rockets, Celtics, and Lakers will make their cases and have had their cases made for them. It is my job to find the funniest possible option.
Option 1: LeBron rejoins the Cavaliers but in some sort of joint administrator/player role
It’s been joked that LeBron’s acted as a sort of shadow-GM for the Cavs since he returned home in 2014. Perhaps he should embrace that role, and simply become a player-GM, much in the way that Bill Russell was a player-coach for his final years with the Celtics. This would also give him the power to cut a player, like perhaps a shooting guard who dribbled out the clock with a tie game or something, after they do something like dribbling out the clock with a tie game.
Option 2: LeBron to Toronto
If he stays in his own conference, this would be the funniest possible path he could take. After sweeping them out of the playoffs in the last two years (and beating them in six games the year prior), prompting Mark Jones to coin the phrase “LeBronto” to describe the state of being down to which The Six descends when the Cavs come back to town.
There are about two to three teams in the NBA who I would think are in a position to turn down LeBron James if he decides he’d like to play there. The Golden State Warriors, obviously, have Kevin Durant already who plays very similarly to him, and they’ve had no problems dispatching the Cavs over the past two years. The Boston Celtics are a maybe, because it kind of looked like they wouldn’t have needed him if both Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward (or, hell, even just one of them) were healthy.
The third is Toronto, because it would absolutely be a pity move. If LeBron offered to join the Raptors, accepting the offer would be the most emasculating free agency decision in NBA history, and an underhanded acceptance of the fact that the Raptors couldn’t win the East without LeBron James. This is what I desperately want to happen.
Option 3: LeBron signs a billion dollar contract with the CBA
In the long history of Joe trying to pay significant attention to the English Premier League, the most fervent and closest years to a real fandom came during the 2015-16 season, when I watched multiple Southampton FC matches, bought a jersey from a Croatian dude on eBay, and then my interest fizzled out when they hired a new manager whose tactics I didn’t care to watch, and I’d only really started paying attention to the team like the year prior, but I knew it was a faux-pas to switch to another team so I just sort of stopped watching at all.
Anyway, one of the Saints’ forwards was a guy named Graziano Pellè, a guy I thought was really good, who promptly missed a penalty in the Euro quarterfinals and then signed the fifth highest contract of any soccer player in the world with Shandong Luneng Taishan in the Chinese Super League.
Basketball’s a worldly game, and the Chinese public deserves the American Basketball equivalent of Graziano Pellè. I’m sure somebody in China would be able to pony up a quarter-billion-per-year, four-year contract there to draw him in. Maybe he’d be able to join forces with Stephon Marbury or Jimmer Fredette, who knows. And to see him spurn the American media’s expectation of him to join up with another NBA All-Star would also be enjoyable.
Option 4: LeBron goes to the Browns like in this State Farm ad from 2006
I know that the Browns aren’t a hot commodity right now, but if they need an other-worldly special teams gunner, LeBron could be the guy. He’d be like a taller, stronger, faster, significantly more athletic in every way version of Steve Tasker.
Also, this would help the whole legacy argument between him and Michael Jordan. While Jordan retired for a year and a half for a mediocre baseball career, LeBron could match that with a mediocre football career.
Option 5: LeBron Retires
He’s got enough Sprite money to retire on, I think
Option 6: LeBron to Ohio State
I think he still has eligibility left, considering the fact that he never went to college in the first place, and since he hired his agent right out of high school during an era where that was an option, I think he could find a way to convince the NCAA that he could still be considered an “amateur athlete” through whatever definition they’re trying to pass at the moment in order to skim over the rightful compensation of their players.
Anyway, it’s well-known that LeBron’s an Ohio State fan, and I assume that’s where he’d end up playing college ball had the opportunity to do it nowadays. The only thing I’d really want out of this is a movie based on LeBron’s college experience, where he goes to wild parties, does Keg Flips, and turns a lovable group of losers from the nerd fraternity into total studs adored by all.
Also he averages 45.6/11.4/18.1 in the Big Ten.
Option 7: LeBron and I hang out and become best friends
I just think it would be fun