We’re about a month away from LeBron making his free agency decision – leaving for the Lakers/76ers/Rockets/Mystery Team, or stay in Cleveland – and Brian Windhorst brought up a great point on my Fox Sports Radio Show on Saturday that I hadn’t previously heard (1:39 into the podcast):
LeBron teams have to have certain facets to them. If you’re going to be successful around LeBron, you have got to have shooting. Great shooting.
You really need a floor-spacing big-man. This is why I stop short on anybody who wants to assume he’s going to pencil in Philadelphia.
If you’re going to play with LeBron James and be the big, you’re going to stand in the corner and wait for the ball. And if you don’t believe me, you’ve got to speak to Chris Bosh and Kevin Love about that. Maybe Joel Embiid is prepared to sign up for that. And say, ‘ok, I’ll go in the corner and wait for the ball.’ That’s not the Joel Embiid that I know.”
When you look at the two awesome big men who joined LeBron -Chris Bosh in Miami, then Kevin Love in Cleveland – they had two things in common: They were 20-10 players before joining forces with King James.
Chris Bosh averaged 22+ points and 10+ rebounds in three of four years in Toronto prior to going to Miami. Kevin Love averaged 20+ points and 12+ rebounds in three of four years in Minnesota prior to going to Cleveland.
Neither had won squat before teaming up with LeBron; Bosh was 0-2 in the first round of the playoffs; Love had never been. Embiid, in just his 2nd year playing in the NBA, got to the 2nd round of the playoffs. Yes, he had Ben Simmons, but few would argue that Embiid has a brighter individual future than Bosh or Love ever did.
But the bigger story is what happened to Bosh/Love while playing with LeBron: They sacrificed their offensive stats and potential for bonuses for making All-NBA and reaching milestones … to win titles. Many would make that sacrifice. Will Joel Embiid?
So ask yourself – is LeBron really going to go to a team that already has a player who controls the flow of the offense, without the three-pointers – that’s Ben Simmons – and ask a franchise player (Embiid) to go stand in the corner and shoot three’s?
There’s a similar argument to be made about the Rockets. Clint Capela isn’t going to space the floor. Sure, it could be PJ Tucker, but you’d almost certainly have to give him – and other role players – up to get LeBron to the Rockets.
The Lakers? Well, not only can they afford two max players, but they also have a big trade chip to help them acquire a floor-spacing big man: Lonzo Ball.