When the summer of 2018 hits, the NBA world will belong to LeBron James again.
The best player in the world can hit the free-agent market, once again choosing his next stop and future. While an eventual landing spot in Los Angeles has been the hot rumor this summer, dots are connecting James to the Sixers.
Of course, James deciding to leave Cleveland for the second time has to be the initial domino to fall. Based on how the Cavs’ offseason has gone, that’s not hard to believe–especially if another ring-less season commences for James.
According to Sam Amick of USA Today, James could soon bolt if a better opportunity to win a title is out there.
James can become a free agent following the 2017-18 season, and it doesn’t take a wild imagination to see him elsewhere – especially if he feels there’s a better opportunity for him to win a championship with another team.
Here’s where the Sixers come into play.
Vegas odds give the 2017-18 Sixers the 10th-best odds to win the NBA title–without seeing a minute of Ben Simmons or Markelle Fultz on the court. If a playoff team emerges around Simmons, Fultz and Joel Embiid, Philadelphia will be looked at as a future contender in the East without James.
With him, the Sixers could be a favorite.
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Adding to the intrigue: The relationship, through Klutch Sports, between James and Simmons. The two have been photographed together multiple times this summer.
DeJounte Murray, LeBron James y Ben Simmons. #NBA #SummerLeague pic.twitter.com/5u1sgb0fK7
— Franklyn Martinez (@FranklinMC31) July 13, 2017
LeBron James getting a workout in with Ben Simmons. pic.twitter.com/wk3L7tCKlz
— Cavaliers Nation (@WeAreCavsNation) July 12, 2017
Lastly, the Sixers–after insisting on one-year commitments to free agents this offseason–can have max cap space to pursue a free agent next summer. With so much of the league up against the luxury tax, few suitors will be able to offer LeBron a soon-to-be title contender and a max contract.
In a NBA free agency winners and losers column, ESPN’s Zach Lowe (along with half the NBA) opined on what the Sixers are up to by hoarding so much cap space.
They stayed lean for next summer by refusing to dole out multiyear deals, and that has the rest of the league wondering: What exactly are the Sixers up to?
Cap space? Check. Rising team? Check. Cavs’ issues forcing James out again? Check. Connection to one of Philadelphia’s building blocks? Check.
James to the Sixers in 2018 is a story line worth watching.
Joe Giglio may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JoeGiglioSports. Find NJ.com on Facebook.