Now, stay with us on this one. It’s as rumour mill as rumour mill gets. But the math (on paper) checks out, and it’s certainly one hell of a juicy dangler to kick start what’s sure to be one of the loosest NBA off-seasons in recent memory. According to speculation from US media, there’s an outside possibility that the Los Angeles Lakers may consider trading LeBron James to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for a package involving Australian gun Ben Simmons. Again, big rumour areas. But fun rumour areas nonetheless.
The rumours come from NBC Sports writer Tom Haberstroh, who analysed the Sixers next dozen moves or so following their heartbreaking last-second game 7 loss to Toronto yesterday.
With Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris entering free agency and no lock guarantee to return to the Sixers (even though franchise admin have all but outright stated they’ll both be offered max extensions), the question of what next for the side is up in the air.
There’s mounting speculation that coach Brett Brown‘s job is in jeopardy, which makes the Los Angeles Lakers‘ recent bungled attempt to hire former Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue suddenly very intriguing.
The Lakers have endured a horrific last three months or so, following Magic Johnson‘s abrupt resignation as head of basketball operations and the franchise seemingly failing to make any inroads into building a side around star acquisition LeBron James adequate enough to keep him happy.
With two more years left on his Lakers contract before becoming a free agent and no no-trade clause written in, LeBron is suddenly an extremely viable trade option if the Lakers believe they won’t be able to assemble a championship calibre team around him in that time period.
It’s here, Haberstroh claims, that the pathway to Philly starts opening right up, citing a “rival” Western Conference NBA franchise executive.
“I think they very well might explore that,” said a rival executive of Philadelphia.
James doesn’t have a no-trade clause, but he shares the same Klutch Sports agent with Ben Simmons in Rich Paul. James has two seasons left on his deal before he can become a free agent. After a disastrous offseason in which their president of basketball operations abruptly resigned and they struck out on their top two head coaching targets in Monty Williams and Tyronn Lue, do the Los Angeles Lakers honestly believe they can put together a championship contender in the next two seasons?
If the answer is no, trading James has to be on the table. And if you’re going to do that, there’s a short list of players that would be worthy of being traded for the King. Simmons is certainly good enough to be on it.
Haberstroh also mentioned the fact that among the reasons why Lue turned down the Lakers head coach job was he believed he could get a “better” job with another franchise. If the Sixers job suddenly becomes available, that certainly qualifies.
Any potential Simmons for LeBron trade would be complicated by Simmons’ low rookie salary, meaning he’d have to be packaged up with a near-max player for the deal to get over the line.
But it’s an interesting proposition. And certainly James, coupled with Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler, would provide the star-packed spine Philly needs to get to true championship contention. Meanwhile Simmons might be the shot-in-the-arm that the ailing Lakers franchise needs to reclaim LA as its own once again.
Time will tell. It’s gonna be a wild off-season, I tell you what.