It's hard to imagine LeBron James not finishing his illustrious career with his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers, but there's another NBA team, in particular, that's hoping he keeps an open mind once free agency looms again.
The Philadelphia 76ers are expected to make a recruiting pitch to James, should he elect to become a free agent this summer, league executives told Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today.
Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo has his sights set on James, who has a player option worth $35,607,969 next season, and the executive has the financial resources to pull off a supermax deal for the three-time NBA champion.
Philadelphia only has $67.4 million in committed salaries for 2018-19, which leaves adequate room to sign James to a max contract and possibly add another reputable free agent next summer. Loaded with young, inexpensive talent, Philadelphia has top draft picks Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz on very affordable rookie contracts, and big men Joel Embiid and Robert Covington already inked to reasonable long-term pacts. Signing James would of course mean veterans J.J. Redick and Amir Johnson wouldn't likely be retained, and Jahlil Okafor's time in Philadelphia is quickly evaporating after he was banished from the rotation.
“Anytime I’m able to be a free agent or my contract is ending, I’ll approach that when the summer comes," James said this September on media day. He's also fond of the Sixers organization for believing in "The Process" and showing faith in coach Brett Brown through some growing pains over the past handful of seasons.
“The organization has done a great job believing in Brett Brown’s system, believing in what he wanted to do and they gave him time,” James said before the Cavaliers routed the Sixers, 113-91, on Monday.
The thought of James joining a young core already consisting of Fultz, Simmons, Embiid, Covington, and Dario Saric is downright terrifying for the Eastern Conference, in particular. It's easy to see why James would at least consider meeting with the Sixers brass about the possibility, and perhaps even field an offer from the club. The Ohio native, of course, previously left the Miami Heat after winning two championships to return home to Cleveland in 2014.
James, who will turn 33 later next month, hasn't missed a beat this season, recording 28.2 points, 8.3 assists, and 8.2 rebounds while logging 37 minutes per game. After a dreadful start, his Cavaliers have reeled off nine straight wins to improve to 14-7 on the season.