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LeBron Still Lakers-Bound After Cavaliers’ Deadline Deals?

LeBron James
LeBron James had a HUGE impact on the Cavs' rankings upon returning to Cleveland. Photo by Keith Allison (Flickr) [CC License]
  • You can bet on where LeBron James will sign for the 2018-19 season.
  • Only one team sits ahead of his home-town Cavaliers in the current odds.
  • Is there any realistic shot LeBron winds up with the Lakers or Warriors?

The Cavaliers may need name tags the next time they play. Owner Dan Gilbert and general manager Koby Altman gave the team a drastic makeover on Thursday by acquiring Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., George Hill, and Rodney Hood at the NBA trade deadline. The four players instantly make Cleveland younger, quicker, and more athletic, and have the Cavs well positioned to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the fourth consecutive year — assuming they gel on the court in time.

The Cavs’ aggressive deals received high marks from most of the league, but are they enough to keep LeBron James in Cleveland when his deal expires at the end of the season? Oddsmakers don’t think so. They set the odds for King James’ next destination and believe the 15-time All-Star is more likely to suit up for the Rockets in 2018-19.

What Team Will LeBron James Play for During Game 1 of the 2018-19 NBA Season

Team Odds
Houston Rockets +250
Cleveland Cavaliers +275
Los Angeles Lakers +500
Golden State Warriors +600
Philadelphia 76ers +1000
Detroit Pistons +1000
Minnesota Timberwolves +1200
San Antonio Spurs +1400
Milwaukee Bucks +1500
New York Knicks +1600

LeBron to the Rockets?

Rolling out a starting line-up with LeBron, Chris Paul, and James Harden may seem like a dream scenario, but it could become a reality with some creative wheeling and dealing. In order to make it work, the Rockets would likely have to trade Eric Gordon or Clint Capela, talk someone into taking Ryan Anderson’s bloated contract, and convince Paul and LeBron to accept considerably less than their market value. Neither player is motivated by money at this stage of his career and would likely be willing to forgo a few million to chase a title.

LeBron to the Lakers?

Ironically, Cleveland cleared the space for LeBron to go to L.A. when they traded Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye for Clarkson and Nance. The Lakers now have enough cap space to sign two max free agents this summer, and could make room for a third if they manage to get off of Luol Deng’s albatross of a contract. LeBron already has two homes in L.A. and has never hidden his love for California. If Paul George commits to the Lakers first, LeBron could soon follow.

LeBron Stays in Cleveland?

Houston and L.A. may be sexier options, but sometimes it’s better staying close to home. If LeBron remains in Cleveland, he’ll avoid the same messy divorce and public backlash that occurred when he “took his talents to South Beach” in 2010. That has to count for something for an image-conscience player with a keen understanding of his legacy.

The Cavs may also present him with his best path to the Finals. Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith, Hill, Clarkson, and Nance will all be back in 2018-19 and the club has a bona fide shot of re-signing Hood if they feel he’s a good fit. Cleveland will also have Brooklyn’s pick in this summer’s loaded draft and can add a foundational player to help LeBron earn his fourth title.

LeBron to the Warriors?

Not even LeBron would stoop to this level. The Warriors, Sixers, Pistons, Wolves, Spurs, Bucks, and Knicks should all be considered massive longshots.

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