The Boston Celtics may fly under the radar for the potential LeBron James sweepstakes, but they will be strong candidates. LeBron has reportedly decided to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers, and will consider a number of teams in free agency, including Boston.
There are a few problems with LeBron joining the Celtics. First and foremost, there’s Kyrie Irving. Not only is Irving consuming a great deal of cap space, but he also left the Cavaliers to get away from LeBron. So if the Celtics wanted to land LeBron, then they’d need to trade Irving, which would kill two birds with one stone. Irving’s contract doesn’t have a no-trade clause, which would make life easy for the Celtics. They could arrange for a sign-and-trade after LeBron opts in with the Cavaliers.
LeBron could pick the C’s and Danny Ainge would put together a deal that would make the financials work. Then James and Irving would trade places.
Stranger things have happened.
Irving would still get his own team by inheriting the Cavaliers, though he’d definitely inherit the rougher situation. LeBron would be surrounded by a mix of solid veterans, like Al Horford and Gordon Hayward, along with up-and-coming youngsters, like Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. The starting lineup might look bizarre (just a guess: Terry Rozier, LeBron, Hayward, Tatum and Horford). Rozer is not comparable to Irving — Rozier disappeared at times on the road in the playoffs, and in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. But who cares? LeBron conquers most ills, as we’ve seen through his astounding (and I don’t use that work lightly) playoff run. LeBron would lead an insanely promising Celtics team.
But that’s the second rub: LeBron would be the leader. Brad Stevens has never coached a star like LeBron — there’s no one in the world like LeBron. He’s emotional and, at times, a diva. He has made a habit of commandeering timeout discussions. He’s not just the alpha male on the Cavaliers but for the entire NBA. Stevens wouldn’t have to do much figuring in terms of acclimating LeBron to his system, but adjusting the superstar into Boston’s locker room would be more complicated.
Ultimately, it’s LeBron. Ainge and Stevens would figure out just about anything to get the best player in the NBA on their roster. And there’s no doubt that, when combined with the sans-Kyrie-Celtics, LeBron could be in the mix to win a few championships.
It’s an unlikely, but entertaining hypothetical scenario to consider.