Why LeBron James to the Clippers is more intriguing than LeBron James to the Lakers
Free agency for the NBA is set to be a big one with. Multiple notable names are available such as: Paul George, Demarcus Cousins, DeAndre Jordan, Aaron Gordon, Chris Paul, and LeBron James among many others. This free agency is highly valued because arguably, the greatest basketball player in the world/ever is up for grabs and can sign with any team.
James has stated after the NBA Finals that his decision will ultimately be decided by family, yet he has also stated that he wants "cerebral" teammates. Considering that James and his family already own homes in Los Angeles that they typically visit during summers, they are already familiar with the area. James is also a business man and living in L.A would give him more opportunities to build his media empire as an actor, producer, and media maven. Plus, LA is generally a bigger market that syncs perfectly with "The King's" brand.
These reasons have many thinking LeBron will be headed to LA. Vegas odds have LA pinned as number one with the Cavaliers coming in second as the team to land LeBron this free agency. People think the Lakers are the most attractive option for LeBron due to the assets that they have and cap space. To be specific, the Lakers have the cap space to sign two max players and trade for another. Many think that Chris Paul, Demarcus Cousins, or Paul George can sign on with LeBron as that other max player. The Lakers can trade for a player (per se) like Kawhi Leonard who has told the San Antonio Spurs that he wants out of San Antonio and would prefer to land in LA. Leonard is open to playing for the Lakers or the Clippers.
As an analyst and sports fan, this got me to thinking. While everybody thinks LBJ's move to the Lakers is a no-brainer, I think the Clippers are an interesting and more viable option. As visibly seen by the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Finals, to beat the Warriors teams must be physical on defense, shoot with the Warriors, and still be able to attack the rim when needed.. I believe the Clippers have a team that can do this when healthy.
Patrick Beverly and Avery Bradley are two of the best three and D backcourt players in the league with both shooting 36% and 37% from 3-point land while having multiple appearances on the NBA Defensive team list. The Clippers also have trading pieces that could possibly be of use to San Antonio with a shooter in Danillo Gallinari, another good player in Tobias Harris, a young solid big in Boban Marjonavic, and young pieces such as Sam Dekker and Sindarius Thornwell that could be used in a trade to obtain Kawhi Leonard. Acquiring Kawhi Leonard would thus increase their chances of swaying LeBron.
Granted they would have to rid the team of some of those contracts that would have been trading pieces if not used in the trade to get Kawhi. The Clippers could probably re-sign DeAndre Jordan for less by pitching the opportunity to play alongside LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard. The Clippers would also have to re-sign Avery Bradley and Lou Williams who seem like they would take less money knowing they can add two high caliber players on their team to win a championship.
The Clippers complement James's game. James would welcome this because he's typically had problems with his team being able to function offensively once he rests on the bench, The Clippers' defensive strategies are hard to overlook and would bring out the best in James's game. Two-time 6th Man of the Year Lou Williams, who previously averaged more points than some starters as a bench player, and other players on the team, would aggressively defend thereby creating more scoring opportunities. Given the possibilities, the "other" LA team is a better fit! And the narrative it would create for James would enhance debates about him being the greatest basketball player ever.
Be clear: James's stature would increase if he brings a championship to one of the most unsuccessful franchises in the NBA. To crown a team that has been widely overlooked, undermined, and even considered a joke by other teams in the league is nothing short of greatness. To ensure that the Clippers are seen as the "little" siblings of the Lakers NO more would push LeBron to the brink even as it would forward the conversations about his greatness.
Even if you are not sold on James's "Decision III", remember he could take his talents to the same team whose racist former owner (just four years ago) embarrassed the league. He was eventually banned from NBA ownership and forced to sell the team. Add James who has declared that his support for equal rights is Bigger Than Basketball, Add some hardware--rings and championship trophies, and not too many folks will remember the fiasco. They will only remember how LeBron James heralded the Clippers franchise (and the Heat and the CAVS) to greatness. Ah, the redemption narrative that Americans know and love!