The NBA’s biggest free agency saga has come to an end and it’s only taken two days. LeBron James has signed a four-year $154m contract with the Los Angeles Lakers.
LeBron signing for the Lakers comes as a massive blow to the Philadelphia 76ers who were desperately trying to acquire the three-time NBA Champion.
Reports emerged on Sunday that a meeting had been scheduled between LeBron’s agent Rich Paul and the front-office of the 76ers management team.
Philadelphia is meeting with LeBron James and his reps today in Los Angeles, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 1, 2018
The 76ers pitched to his agent the strong possibility of being able to trade for Kawhi Leonard, a player who the Lakers are trying to sign in order to build a team that could compete against the Rockets and Warriors. However, it seems as if that wasn’t enough to entice LeBron to stay in the East.
Any chance of trading for Kawhi Leonard seems to be fading away after it was revealed he still wants to be a Los Angeles Laker. There were rumours of the San Antonio Spurs demanding three future first-round picks as well as Robert Covington and Dario Saric but those talks are just rumours as it stands. The likelihood is that Kawhi Leonard will become a Laker delivering another huge blow to the 76ers.
Paul George was another option for Philadelphia with the organisation trying to sign him in free agency. However, he chose to stay at Oklahoma City as he signed a four-year $137m max contract with the Thunder.
All is not lost for the Philadelphia 76ers. The duo of Joel Embiid and Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons took the franchise to the playoffs for the first time since the 2011/12 season where they lost to the Boston Celtics in the Conference Semi-Finals.
Simmons and Embiid are young and talented. The franchise is already being built around them and we saw glimpses of how amazing the duo can be together last season. Adding someone like Kawhi Leonard will automatically boost their chances of winning a weakened Eastern Conference now that LeBron has left Cleveland.
Philadelphia also have Zhaire Smith, a first round draft choice, and Landrey Shamet who they hope can make a difference in the upcoming season. Both should be participating in the NBA Summer League so Brett Brown can have a look at what the future holds for the 76ers.
Signing JJ Redick to an extension should be of high priority for the organisation after his season last year. Redick shot 42% from three point range and averaged 17 points per game. Losing someone of his calibre will be damaging to the franchise as the team has no solid three point shooter.
Despite losing two impactful starters, the 76ers should be reaching the playoffs this season with the intention of winning the Eastern Conference. The last four seasons were dominated by a LeBron James led Cleveland Cavaliers, this is their chance.
Now that the King has gone to Hollywood, the division has opened up. The Boston Celtics look to be the favourites to win the conference now that they have a healthy Gordon Hayward returning, as well as a fully fit Kyrie Irving, but the 76ers aren’t too far behind.