We’re well in to the offseason for the Philadelphia 76ers and even with all of the nonsense that Bryan Colangelo has brought upon the team the past few days, the team still figures to be making a big splash during the summer. If you look at the current roster, it’s filled with quality young players who each provide a piece to the puzzle for the current team. Where the Sixers can make their splash is in free agency and there’s only one way that they team should go and that’s toward Lebron James.
Consider that James is currently starting his eighth straight NBA Finals appearance. For a guy that’s 33 years old and currently the best player in the league, it’s an amazing accomplishment, given some of the team that he’s taken to the finals. Given that, the Sixers are Lebrons best option for his career and for his ability to compete for titles over the next few years.
Why, you may ask? Let’s take a look.
1) He still has a lot to give
If LeBron wants to play until he’s 40 years old, and he’s stated that he’d like to try to play with his son, then the Sixers are the best option. With the quality of young players and the two start that already occupy the roster, there’s no reason that LeBron couldn’t see his minutes reduced while still making a huge impact on the team. This year saw LeBron play 82 games and he’s had to carry the load for a team that didn’t have a viable option after him.
Kevin Love has battled injuries and combined that with sometimes poor play, but after Love there’s no one on the current Cavaliers roster that can be considered a quality option to play with LeBron. The Sixers give LeBron the ability to limit his minutes as well as having quality players on the court so that he’s not required to do everything. While he’s close to a triple double every time that he’s on the floor, LeBron could take his improved outside game and work well with players like Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
Add in Markelle Fultz, Dario Saric, this years #1 draft pick as well as some roster players that would sign on in hopes of winning a title, like JJ Redick, Marco Belinelli and Irsan Ilyasova, and LeBron would be surrounded with a supporting cast worthy of his time and talent. Less minutes and less strain on him mentally and physically would allow James to extend his career. He’s been injury free for his career, but that can’t be expected to hold true as he gets older. Descreasing the pressure on James would extend his career and allow him to put the personal records so far out of reach that no one would be able to touch them.
Regardless of what people may say or even what James, himself, may say, LeBron wants to win. You can see it in his face. You can see it in the way he plays the game. You can see it in the way that he prepares for the season, games and the playoffs. You can see that what drives him is winning. He’s taken it upon himself this year to make sure that the Cavaliers get to the finals and he’s been a beast throughout the year.
The Sixers made it to the second round of the playoffs this year and they were the #3 seed in the East when no one expected them to win more than 42 games. As the team grows in age and experience they should be able to go deeper in to the playoffs and become a contender in their own right. But, with LeBron, the Sixers would easily be the favorite in the east and they would provide a big issue for the teams in the west like the Warriors and the Rockets.
The Sixers have a few quality shooters, they move the ball very well and they play some of the best defense in the league. All of these things would be great for the future hall of famer when it comes to playing for titles and actually competing for them when he gets to the finals. There’s no reason why LeBron shouldn’t come here. Lastly, in regard to titles, LeBron wouldn’t be joining a super team. He wouldn’t be joining the Rockets team that led the NBA in wins. He wouldn’t be pulling a Durant and heading to the best team in the league. He’d be going to a talented young team that would benefit from his abilities.
LeBron has cemented his legacy as one of the all-time greats. There are very few, if only one other person, that can be mentioned in the same breath as the 3x NBA Champion. In coming to the Sixers, the four-time MVP could help other players like Simmons, Embiid, Fultz and Saric reach their true potential. For those that love the lore of Jordan, imagine Grant Hill or Anfernee Hardaway getting to be part of those mid-nineties Bulls teams. Simmons would learn how to better control a game. Embiid would be able to learn how to manipulate the players in the post and pass out of the post. Fultz could learn how to deal with the pressure and Dario would be able to just soak it all in as he’s a well-rounded player in his own right.
Teaching younger players how to act and how to compete is where James will make a lasting mark on the league. He’ll be able to work with highly talented players, that are young enough to learn, but talented enough to compete now. He could create a legacy where those players would be able to do the same as they get older and become the veterans that LeBron is now. Becoming the teacher is where he will make his greatest impact as he’s the greatest player at the start of the instant news, twitter, facebook, Instagram era, who’s had to deal with constant scrutiny. He could also compete for another three straight titles with a more complete team than he’s had since the 2014 Miami Heat team.
As the offseason progresses for the Sixers, they can look forward to a good draft and have the money to put a great team on the floor for the upcoming season. The one piece they’re missing is that veteran leadership that Bryan Colangelo thought Jerryd Bayless and Amir Johnson would provide. Having one of the best players to ever step on the court, play for your team, while he’s in his prime, is something that the team can’t overlook this year when making their decisions in free agency. If the question is what player should the Sixers sign in the off-season, then the answer is LeBron James and it’s not even close.
Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports