LOS ANGELES - Don’t do it, LeBron James.
Don’t go West, young man.
Sure, the allure of it will be tough. After all, who doesn’t want to live and play in Hollywood with all the stars, the palm trees and the golden sunshine.
This was just absurd by LeBron. Find more exclusive sports coverage: http://bleacherreport.com/ Subscribe: https://www.youtube.com/user/BleacherReport?sub_confirmation=1 Follow us on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/bleacherreport Like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/bleacherreport
Indeed, the Lakers, a shell of the storied NBA franchise that used to win championships with regularity, are down and out.
In fact, LA hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2013 when they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs.
The Lakers want desperately to be in championship contention again.
Sunday night - on national TV - seemed like an audition for the Lakers. They wanted to impress James that, indeed, they have a nice nucleus of young talent. And better yet, a ton of cap space. For sure, the Lakers will have enough room to sign not one, but two big free agents this summer.
James is target No. 1. And OKC’s Paul George, an LA native, is target No. 2.
George coming home makes sense. LeBron, though, not at all.
There was a recent report that James had narrowed his free agent choices to four, including the Lakers. He denied it this weekend in LA.
“I understand that I am a free agent at the end of the summer, so I understand the frenzy that comes with it,” James told the media. “I understand the conversation happens here (LA) because first of all they cap space.”
While that is true, the Lakers aren’t ready to contend out West - even with the addition of James.
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Sure, it was just one game. But face-of-the-franchise Lonzo Ball didn’t actually put on a show to impress James.
In the Lakers’ 127-113 blowout of the Cavs at STAPLES Center, Ball had a miserable night, shooting 2-for-11 from the field for just five points.
In one stretch in the first half, Ball had an airball three and then hit the side of the backboard on a three attempt in back-to-back possessions.
And let’s not forget, there was also a missed dunk mixed in.
Worse than that performance, though, is the fact that the West is no joke compared to the cupcake East that James has gotten fat off of with seven straight trips to the NBA Finals.
That’s the real rub. Coming West could mean that James doesn’t even get to the Finals, possibly losing in the first or second rounds depending on the matchup.
Hard to imagine that James would be interested in something so iffy. He loves to have his deck stacked.
The West is loaded with teams in the way of what James craves - a chance to win another championship before he retires.
Plus, does James want to come to LA and flop, not win like all the other Laker greats - Magic, Kareem, Shaq and Kobe.
Not winning on such a big stage would definitely ding his legacy.
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And yes, Jordan failed in Washington at the end of his career. But MJ was 6-0 in the NBA Finals. James is 3-5, not a pretty picture.
If you have to meet Golden State, Houston and even the Spurs, you’d rather do it in the Finals and take your chances. Out West, LBJ might have to slay two giants just to get a shot at winning it all in June.
And the notion about James moving to LA to make money off the court on other opportunities out here makes no sense.
When he retires, all those things will still be available to him. There’s no rush.
But if we’re talking basketball, the Lakers and the West - even with George - doesn’t add up.
Ask George how tough the West is. He has two other stars in OKC. The Thunder still struggled and at this late date aren’t even a shoo-in for the postseason.
Truth be told, James should stay in Cleveland, finish where he started. He should build on this team he supposedly loved after deadline trades made them younger and better defensively.
Take a special look back as LeBron James and the Cavaliers defeated the Lakers 121-112 last night on TNT.
And if he were to bounce from Cleveland, his hometown, for the second time in his career, Philadelphia is the real spot.
They have the young pieces - Joel Embiid and Ben Simmo - LeBron would need to try to win at least one more title before his career is over and done.
And from a basketball standpoint, they would provide a matchup problem against Golden State because of their size.
Philly totally makes sense, not LA.