LeBron James has officially turned the page. He’s finally ready to start a new chapter. Other cliches. But just because he chose the Los Angeles Lakers doesn’t mean other teams weren’t in the running. According to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk, the Philadelphia 76ers genuinely believe they had a chance.
“I think they considered us very strongly,” Sixers managing partner Josh Harris said. “I think he — I would be speculating on how he makes his decisions, and I don’t want to do that — but I think that they were really serious [about Philadelphia]. The fact that they took the meeting with us was something that they didn’t view lightly, so I think that they were very serious about it.”
We know how the story ends. James is with the Lakers now. More than that, he’s there to stay. He wouldn’t have put pen to paper on a four-year deal otherwise. If he would’ve gone to the 76ers, though, they would’ve been the undisputed favorites out East. Instead, James is willing to let his own process play out in Los Angeles. They’re signing a bunch of random players to one-year deals (Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee). It doesn’t seem like there’s a realistic deal for San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard in place. There’s lot of promise but plenty of inexperience with the likes of Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball around.
Still, just having James automatically makes the Lakers better. They won’t win a title anytime soon, but maybe he’s not there to do that just yet. Perhaps he’s there to help everybody else improve. Still, could you imagine James teaming up with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid on the 76ers? The process would’ve been complete. The Boston Celtics and 76ers would’ve been fighting it out in the Eastern Conference Finals for years to come.
But as we know, not all stories have a happy ending.