NBA Betting Props: Where will LeBron James play in 2018?
LeBron James is going to play for a team somewhere in 2018-19, and it will very likely be in the NBA. That's all we really know. Not long ago it would have been all but impossible to really believe that it would be anywhere but Cleveland, but the bizarre front office changes, the Kyrie Irving unrest, and the massive gap between what the team is and what they need to be to beat the Warriors with Kevin Durant all make it much more possible to believe he'll takes his services somewhere other than Cleveland for a second time. And, of course, we can bet on the possibilities. BetOnline has odds on where he will start the 2018 season . Here's a look at the most interesting options.
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Cleveland Cavaliers (+250): If LeBron breaks Cleveland's heart again, it won't heal. His legacy would take a big hit, and he couldn't argue against the notion that all he cares about is money and titles. He will, I'm sure, be fine with that if it comes to it. But it's a factor.
A bigger factor, though, is that despite all the dysfunction there isn't a team in the world that will give James the room to be his ridiculous self that Dan Gilbert does. He coaches the team, plays when he wants, and despite the odd GM debacle this offseason he dictates what goes on. If Irving leaves and Kevin Love is jettisoned then the team will have the room to bring in help for James again, and you can be sure he can dictate who that will be. Guys won't say no if James asks them to come win titles with him. I get all the reasons that LeBron is frustrated and why he could be looking elsewhere, but the grass may not ultimately be any greener than it is at home. This is the justified favorite.
L.A. Lakers (+275): From a business perspective, and likely a personal one, this would make sense. He can build his brand more in L.A. than anywhere else, and he has a home there and obviously likes it. That's why everyone is so high on his chances of going there. And the team is obviously lusting after him, working to clear cap space for him and another max guy - with Paul George talked about more than anyone else, including by Paul George.
Here's the biggest issue, though, as I see it. He will have to rely on Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram to be ready to play big roles for this team. He has never really had patience for young players, and doesn't fancy himself a mentor in a positive way, and that certainly won't soften as he gets older and his window for more titles gets smaller.
And you also have to wonder if playing in the West - and in the same state - makes much sense in the era of the Warriors. He's not one to shy away from a challenge, but a much tougher conference, complete with much tougher travel, might not ultimately make the most sense for him.
And finally, James is not a guy who likes to share spotlights, so I am not entirely convinced that going to a team that would be his, but is also Magic's and Kobe's, would work for him. What would people say if he can't win once where Kobe won so many times? He has been the undisputed king of both his stops, and that matters to him and his massive ego.
I'm skeptical of him winding up there - or at least more skeptical than I would need to be to like this price.
Boston Celtics (+700): If he wants to stay in the East and leave Cleveland then this is probably the best fit. But it would require him to deal with a very talented coach who isn't going to be awed by his presence, and he'll have to coexist with a mostly complete roster that isn't likely the one he would pick himself. If this was attractive to him then he'd really have to ask why he wouldn't just be better off staying in Cleveland - and he probably would be.
Houston Rockets (+1000): James Harden needs the ball all the time, and he likes to run things on the floor. Sound familiar? I have no real idea how Harden will humble himself enough to play with Chris Paul, never mind with James. It would be fun to watch, but I think that both of these alpha dogs have enough self awareness to know that they aren't the right fit for each other.
San Antonio Spurs (+1000): I don't believe James would do this ultimately, but it would be fun if he did. Kawhi Leonard would be the best teammate he has ever had, and Gregg Popovich obviously the best coach - since he's the best coach there is. And Leonard and James together would be able to attract anyone they wanted to join them.
James would have to show humility I don't believe he has to make this work, though. He would have to be willing to coexist as equals with Leonard - something he has never been willing to do. He'd also have to learn to accept what Popovich says and do what the coach thinks is best. That seems like a real stretch for a guy who thinks that Tyronn Lue is an ideal choice.
I'd love to see it, and it is what he would do if he was really serious about beating Golden State, but I'm not holding my breath.
Minnesota Timberwolves (+1400): Could James force Andrew Wiggins out of two cities? Maybe, but I doubt it. I just don't see this happening. Karl-Anthony Towns is a freak, and Jimmy Butler is a nice addition, but they don't have the pieces to go all the way, and James would have a tougher job attracting people to Minneapolis than other spots.
Philadelphia 76ers (+1600): The Sixers have ridiculous amounts of young talent and will have a window where they could add James because they won't be paying their youngsters yet. James would have to bet on the potential of Ben Simmons and the rest, though, and as we discussed earlier, I just can't imagine him having the patience to do that at this stage - or at any stage, really.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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