Just a few days ago we were daydreaming about Giannis on the Dubs. Now … LeBron?
The Los Angeles Lakers were swept out of the Western Conference Finals by Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets Monday night and LeBron looked gassed by the end of it. He exploded for 31 points in the first half, on 11-of-13 shooting, to set a single-half postseason scoring record for himself, but ended the game with 40 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.
At the end of his press conference, LeBron hinted that he could be considering retirement, or at least a big change in his basketball future.
Could one of those scenarios include joining the Warriors?
There’s no secret that Draymond Green and LeBron have become close over the years and are both represented by Rich Paul. As recently as April 2022, LeBron has openly said he’d like to team up with Steph Curry at some point.
Steph responded by telling 95.7 The Game, “Well he got his wish he was captain and picked me the last two All-Star Games. I don’t know that suffices, but I’m good right now. I’m good right now.”
They call him LeGM for a reason. After living up to his immense pre-draft hype and becoming the NBA’s all-time leading scorer the past 20 years, the 38-year-old icon has enough weight to call his own shots in his career. If he wants to demand a trade to Golden State, you have to think both sides would at least open serious negotiations.
For what it’s worth, BetOnline.Ag has pegged the Warriors with 9-to-1 odds to land LeBron this offseason if he leaves the Lakers, which is the sixth-highest behind the Knicks (3/1), 76ers (7/2), Clippers (5/1), Cavaliers (7/1) and Suns (8/1). Writers like Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer and Tim Kawakami of The Athletic think a LeBron-to-Warriors deal is a possibility.
There are a couple of timelines we have to consider with LeBron. Even Superman has an expiration date in the NBA.
Since joining the Lakers in 2018, he has only played more than 55 games in a season once, coming in 2019-20 when he played in 67 games. This past season, a foot injury limited him to just 56 games in the regular season.
His son, Bronny, has also declared his intentions to enroll at USC this fall, meaning he could be an NBA rookie in 2024-25. James is due to make $46.9 million next season and holds a $50.7 million option for 2024-25. It’s not out of the realm to think LeBron could rest for a year then join Bronny wherever he’s playing for one last farewell tour.
If James wants to win a championship, his best chance might be to join forces with Curry, his longtime nemesis. The Warriors aren’t afraid of the home run deal (see: Kevin Durant) and have the salaries to pull off the trade, though it would be costly.
You have to assume Jordan Poole and his $30.8 million salary would be included in any LeBron deal, while the Warriors could also throw in Andrew Wiggins ($24.3 million) to make a deal work financially. Or they could send over Jonathan Kuminga ($6.0 million), Moses Moody ($3.9 million) and one of their 2022 draft picks Patrick Baldwin Jr. ($2.3 million) or Ryan Rollins ($1.7 million). Even in the twilight of his career, it will take a king’s ransom to get James.