Kevin Durant joining the Warriors caused LeBron and his Cavaliers hopes of winning another championship to wash up on shore like a shipwreck out of a movie. This wasn’t supposed to be the case, LeBron and “his” Cavaliers were supposed to be ghost hunters. The under 30 duo of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were supposed to help LeBron win more championships and make the Cavaliers a dynasty. The blue print was clear, LeBron James and two all stars won you championships. With Irving and Love riding shot gun, LeBron and the Cavaliers were good enough to defeat any team in the NBA. They had just upset a 73 win team, so this view wasn’t outside of the realm of reality. We had seen this blue print at work before, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh had combined their remarkable talents to win two championships in four years and had been to the NBA finals in each of LeBron’s four years as a member of the Heat.
Not long after winning his lone championship as a member of the Cavaliers, LeBron was quoted as saying he was chasing ghosts and the ghost played in Chicago.This Lee Jenkins feature article gave us a candid look into LeBron’s mind, like the rest of us LeBron James uses Michael Jordan as a barometer to measure his greatness. LeBron has three championships and Michael has six and with Durant’s game changing move LeBron’s hopes of adding to his championship collection seems all but extinguished. Let’s put a qualifier on that, LeBron’s hopes of adding to his championship as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers seem all but extinguished. The Cavaliers projected cap space, going forward is the same as it was previously, virtually non-existent. The Cavaliers do not have the cap space to significantly improve the roster. The most major move the Cavaliers could hope to make is to re-sign LeBron James in the offseason of 2018. Such a move would place them in the same position they presently occupy, very good but not good enough. To make matters worse, as great a player as LeBron James is, as durable as he has been, when the calendar turns to December 30, LeBron will be 34 years and in the 16th year of his NBA career. Given this reality the Cavaliers will be in a worse position in the 2018/19 season than they were in 2017/18. The Cavaliers consequently will not be of much help to James in his ghost chasing, the team seems very unlikely to get him beyond three championships. If team LeBron member Maverick Carter, is to be believed at this stage in his career winning is all that matters to LeBron. If winning a championship is that important then LeBron James must leave the Cleveland Cavaliers and join the Philadelphia 76ers. LeBron James must complete the process, as he has been urged by billboards to do. The Sixers represent the best opportunity outside of the Warriors for LeBron to win championships.
The Presence of Superstars
Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are superstars and they are only going to get better as they age. Ben Simmons rookie campaign continues to amaze us. Simmons broke Allen Iverson’s Sixers assist record much to the delight of Sixers legend Allen Iverson himself. Simmons joined Oscar Robinson and Magic Johnson as rookies with 1000 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists. This type of record breaking success led Simmons to have lofty praise heaped on his shoulders by the legendary Julius ‘the Doctor’ Irving. Simmons in continuation of his spectacular rookie campaign has powered the Sixers in the absence of the teams transcendent centre Joel Embiid. Joel Embiid is the Sixers undisputed leader and his dominance doesn’t just come from his witty presence on social media. Embiid has been every bit as dominant on the court as he has been off it. None other than LeBron James has taken notice of the great leaps that Sixers dynamic duo and the team overall have made this season. This team is much improved and James and the rest of the NBA has taken notice and even elite players realise that James joining forces with the Sixers duo if he is intent on winning more championships. Simmons and Embiid are already being talked about as superstars and both players are under 25. The closest player to a superstar that the Cavaliers have is allstar Kevin Love. Love in all honesty will be an allstar for the foreseeable future but he is not a superstar. The Cavaliers had another superstar level talent in Kyrie Irving but he now plays in Boston. LeBron is left to do the heavy lifting by himself in Cleveland so two young superstars would only lessen the superstar burden on LeBron.
The Philadelphia 76ers roster has a mixture of superstars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons as we referenced before. They also have high level starters such as Dario Saric and Robert Covington. They have able bench players on cheap deals in Richaun Holmes and T.J.McConnell. They have contributing veterans in Marco Belinelli, Ersan Ilyasova, Amir Johnson and J.J Redick. Each of these players chose to play join the Sixers either in free agency or after a buy out. These players demonstrate that veterans are attracted to the winning potential of the Sixers and could sign on the cheap. The Sixers also have players who can be classified as contract fillers such as Jerryd Bayless, Timothy Luwawu, Justin Anderson and Furkan Kormaz. Add these players to the potential that the Sixers have in rookie Markelle Fultz and their two 2018 first round picks. The Cavaliers roster of Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, George Hill, Jose Caulderon, Kyle Korver, JR Smith, Jeff Green, Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood, Larry Nance Junior, Cedi Osman, Ante Zizic and the brimming potential of the Brooklyn Nets top 10 pick pale in comparison to what the Sixers have to offer. LeBron sees what the Cavaliers can do with him, imagine what the Sixers could do with him. Adding LeBron James to this 50 win team would turn them into immediate championship favourites.
The value of rest and less of a playing burden cannot be overstated for a player heading into his 16th NBA season. In his 15th season LeBron James leads the league in total minutes played at 2936 for an average of 37.2 per game. James leading the league in minutes demonstrates just how important he is to the Cavaliers and how much of a burden he shoulders as their leader. For an ageing player such as LeBron this type of burden is not good for his continuing career longevity. Ben Simmons averages 33.9 minutes to lead the Sixers in minutes played. This level of dependability is good for LeBron as it means he doesn’t have to carry the load by himself. Against the Wizards James led the Cavaliers with 33 points in 38 minutes as the Cavaliers came back from a major deficit to win the game 119-115. Against the Sixers in the battle for the third seed James scored 44 points as the Cavaliers fell to the Sixers 132-130. The Sixers did this with their best player Joel Embiid absent. The Sixers sent a clear message to LeBron James complete the process. We don’t have our best player and our squad is still better than your squad even with you having a phenomenal game. 44 points in 40 minutes is great but 40 minutes to get these points in a losing effort after extending yourself the previous night is telling. Complete the process and you won’t need nights like this in order to win games.
Chasing the ghost of Chicago
The Sixers have an array of talent that is the envy of every team in the NBA not named the Golden State Warriors. Joining the Sixers would give LeBron James the best opportunity to catch or maybe even surpass the ghost. LeBron James should complete the process. LeBron James performance in his final regular season game against the Sixers demonstrates why LeBron James needs the Sixers and the Sixers need LeBron James to complete the process. When the summer of 2018 comes around and LeBron James is ready to make his free agent decision all LeBron James should be thinking is “COMPLETE THE PROCESS”