- The rumors of LeBron James heading to the Sixers during free agency has been sweeping the internet. The Open Floor crew explores why James joining Ben Simmons in Philly won't be an ideal fit.
Check out the full episode here and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. (The following transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity).
Andrew Sharp: Can we talk about LeBron to the Sixers for one second? Because that has been in the news over the last 10 days or so. Nothing makes me happier than the private school rumors that have now become part of the LeBron discourse. We still haven't heard any San Antonio Spurs private school rumors, but I like that it got thrown out with Philly. But one thing that doesn't make sense to me is I understand that they are an upcoming team, but LeBron's game would not fit at all with Ben Simmons. So basically if you are saying LeBron should go to Philly, I think it implies a Ben Simmons trade.
Ben Golliver: It's a tricky fit because you just can't say we are going to move LeBron off the ball—that's an anathema. LeBron is already checked out if you try to float that in your free agency pitch meeting. Like, 'Hey, we have a 20-year old who is going to have the ball in his hands all of the time.' LeBron is already out the door. It's just a non-starter and you can't really play Simmons off the ball consistently, so that is really tricky. I don't see any scenario where they trade Ben Simmons, so it will be either a forced fit where you just stagger their minutes a lot and always have one of them, that would be one option. Two: It just doesn't happen. Three: They just magically fix Ben Simmons' shooting over the summer, which is very unlikely. So I think you raise a good point. The fit is not as clean there as it could be. It would make more sense for LeBron to do that if he was two or three years older, like ready to relinquish some of the control and just play power forward full-time and be willing to just score crafty stuff around the basket and not be that lead playmaker. And that time would eventually be coming for LeBron but I think it is more likely that he cedes control to LeBron James Jr. in five to six years (laughs) than like his surrogate son Ben Simmons right now.
AS: You know what man, you predicted that a year-and-a-half ago when we had 20% of the audience that we do have now. That to me is your best long-term bet and I can't wait until LeBron and LeBron Jr. are on the same team. Not only is it impressive that you called it but I think it is going to happen at some point.
BG: It's sweeping the Internet, I see everyone taking this up.
AS: I know. It's now a thing. It's kind of real already and who knows what happens the next few years. The only thing I want to add to the LeBron to Philly stuff is that the two things that would make me believe that it would happen is number one: I can see LeBron looking at the Bryan Colangelo front office and realizing he would have a ton of power in Philly and feel like he could do whatever he wanted when he got there—in which case that might be attractive to him this point. He might not want to go to a San Antonio.
BG: Oh you are flipping it!
AS: (Laughs) No, look, LeBron wants to be empowered to do whatever LeBron wants so that can be a factor in Philly because I think that he will be given free reign to do whatever. Then the Simmons fit, the other side of it, LeBron does not have a very good sense for basketball fit sometimes. He has wanted to play with Chris Paul, which would also be kind of awkward, and even Love was a situation where like they kind of play the same position and are operating out of the same spots on the court and that has not worked as well as everyone thought it was going to. So there is a chance of LeBron looking at the Philly roster and really not thinking it through as much. I am not questioning his basketball IQ but I think in the past he has made some mistakes.
BG: I think he has come around on the importance of shooting. So I think he would understand the flaw that Simmons has that is really difficult to work around. I think he would get that, your point is well taken. But this rumor reminds me of your toilet cup theory from last episode, where you don't want the tournament of the mediocre teams, you want the absolute worst teams to play each other. Because my whole operating premise has been that he should go to the organizations that have the best front offices that would provide him the support and kind of ease his burden, but it is a lot funnier to rank LeBron destinations by the worst front offices and the worst ownership groups, because finally the Phoenix Suns have a chance to get him. Because their pitch is essentially going to be a billboard on I-77 and as LeBron is driving up from Akron. It would be like, 'We are hopeless at every level. Come save us.'