The most tantalizing topic of this NBA offseason is LeBron James’ future, as LeBron is expected to opt out of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers and become an unrestricted free agent. Many members of the national media speculate LeBron’s top destinations are the Los Angeles Lakers, the Houston Rockets, the Boston Celtics, the Philadelphia 76ers or even the Golden State Warriors. However, Michael Wilbon brought up an interesting idea earlier this week on The Tony Kornheiser Show Podcast: what if LeBron James signs with our Washington Wizards? While this is far-fetched and probably unlikely, LeBron to D.C. could be a match made in heaven.
After LeBron’s most recent NBA Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors, LeBron was asked about his future and said he didn’t know what he will do yet, but emphasized that his decision will primarily be based on what’s best for his family. Before we even get into the on the court prospect of LeBron as a Wizard, let’s begin here. LeBron has a 13 year old son who is already being heralded as a top hoops prospect, and what better place is there for LeBron’s son to blossom as a baller than Washington, DC? D.C is well-known as a hotspot for high school and AAU basketball, and many NBA players have come from the D.M.V. If LeBron wants to make a decision that is best for his family, the D.C. area has great private schools with elite high school and AAU basketball.
LeBron James is also very active when it comes to voicing his opinion on political and social issues. What better place is there to do this than the capital of the United States? While I don’t necessarily believe that living in Washington D.C. will make LeBron’s political voice louder, LeBron living and playing in the same city as Donald Trump could stir up a lot more drama.
Financially, the Wizards and general manager Ernie Grunfeld would have to get creative and, as Michael Wilbon said, “think outside of the box” to make LeBron to D.C happen. The Wizards already have 3 max contract players (John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter Jr) as well as some other medium to large contacts (Marcin Gortat, Ian Mahinmi, etc). The Wizards would certainly have to move at least one of their three max contracts via trade to make this work. The most obvious choice would be Otto Porter Jr, who is the least good of the 3 max contract players and also plays the same position as LeBron. It might be difficult to find a team that would take on Otto’s massive contract, and any trade involving Otto would probably have the Wizards on the losing end of the deal. That’s just fine, as acquiring LeBron James would be a huge win and moving Otto would be more about freeing up salary cap space than getting something good back. Gortat could be traded, as he has hinted that he might retire soon and has an interest in retiring with the Orlando Magic (who he played for at the beginning of his career). You could even throw in Markieff Morris into the deal. These two moves would free enough cap space for LeBron to join John Wall and Bradley Beal.
I think LeBron would mesh really well with John Wall and Bradley Beal, which is why I think the Wizards should move Otto instead of trading either Wall or Beal. LeBron has been quoted as saying he would like to play more off ball as he gets later into his career, and the Wizards have the guards to make that happen. John Wall as the prominent ball handler and Beal as a sharpshooter would open a lot of options up for LeBron. LeBron is an elite passer and would create many more open shots for Beal, and Wall is the kind of pass first point guard that LeBron could thrive with. The Wizards’ fast paced offense with Wall and LeBron at the helm would be deadly and their transition game with ‘Bron and Wall would be second to none.
I’m not saying LeBron James signing with the Washington Wizards is likely, but D.C. would be a great fit for LeBron in many different facets. LeBron would instantly make the Wizards the favorites in the Eastern Conference and an interesting contender against the Golden State Warriors.