The Case For and Against Possible Destinations for LeBron James

LeBron James has just wrapped up his 11th season in the NBA. It was one of his most productive seasons in his career. An MVP candidate (possibly the award winner) that set multiple NBA records that may never be accomplished by any other player in NBA history. It unfortunately ended with a sweep of the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. Now fans, media, and the rest of the league is waiting to see what the King’s next move will be. A familar setting from that 2010 offseason when James took his talents to the Miami Heat where he won 2 championships. His next decision could shake up the league and create a new NBA power house. One of the most intriguing careers in professional basketball history is about to write a new chapter in his legacy. The question remains, will this be the right decision? Will it be the last?

Case made for the Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron James shocked the world when he decided to return to Cleveland in 2014. Since then, he has taken them to 4 NBA Finals appearances, one of which they won. Cleveland provides plenty of reasons why James would consider staying. One, his family. Akron is where he was born and raised. His family seems to adore the area. I personally believe they will have a big impact in his next decision. Two, the freedom with front office. The Cavs have seen the best 4 years in the franchise history. The front office doesn’t want to lose him again. They may play all their cards and let LeBron have full say of the team. That includes players, coaches, and potential front office moves. Three, a max contract. LeBron could agree on a whopping 240 million dollar contract this summer with Cleveland. Due to the Larry Bird rule, only the Cavs can offer that sum of money. It would almost guarantee he would end his career in Cleveland.

Case against the Cavs

One name: Dan Gilbert. In 2014, Gilbert made his best move as the owner of the Cavaliers. Confronting LeBron James and apologizing for remarks he made after LeBron left for Miami. The apology resulted in LeBron’s return to Cleveland. After the Cavs won the 2016 championship, Gilbert seemed to take on a Jerry Jones like persona. A massive power trip which led to the 2017 offseason mess. He doesn’t resign David Griffin for general manager and angered Kyrie Irving to the point he demanded a trade. It turned into a bad domino effect that resulted in a rough 2017-18 season for the Cavaliers. Yes, they made it to the Finals but the lack of roster talent resulted in the sweep. James knows the situation better than any player in the league. Gilbert may have once again scared him away. And if so, how does Gilbert turn this team around? The last attempt was poor. Cleveland’s only chance at retaining James is in Dan Gilbert’s hands. Scary.

The case for the Houston Rockets

Houston provides plenty of reason for LeBron James to sign. He would play along side his buddy Chris Paul, MVP candidate James Harden, and a squad with plenty of depth (even though I imagine some players would have to go for salary cap space). Mike D’Antoni coaches an aggressive defensive playbook, that was a factor in taking the Western Conference Finals against Golden State to 7 games. There is also speculation that if LeBron goes to Houston, so will Carmelo Anthony. Paul, Harden, James, and Melo on the same team?! If that’s the case, Warriors wouldn’t be automatic favorites in the west anymore.

Case against the Rockets

I see James Harden having a problem with LeBron stealing his thunder. There was a time Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden were on the same team. But that was different. All three were drafted into that situation. Since then, Harden has made a name for himself in Houston. If LeBron comes in and takes full control of the locker room, it would result in a distraction. Not all superstars will work well together. Houston is a player away from contending for a title. As crazy as it sounds, it may not be LeBron James. Unless they’re willinng to move on from Harden.

Case for the Los Angeles Lakers

Lakers are hands down one of the best franchises in NBA history. Currently, the team is young and has the funds to make a big splash in free agency this summer. Plenty of speculation that hometown kid Paul George will be signing with the team. The endorsement opportunities, Paul George, a young core, and the city of Los Angeles make it a sexy destination for LeBron James. It would make the Lakers relevant again for the first time since the Kobe era.

Case against the Lakers

Hypothetically, lets say Paul George does sign with Los Angeles. Both George and James agree to max contract deals. Keep in mind George is injury prone. Is a team with those two, Julius Randle, Lonzo Ball, and some key young roll players enough to beat Golden State? LeBron knows he only has so many seasons left in him. He has proven he can carry an inconsistent, decent team to the finals. But going up against Golden State in the conference finals with an inexperienced team and the chance to be playing without Paul George maybe a bad investment. Sure, LA can attract more talent the following year. But how much longer is LeBron willing to wait? Obviously not long. There’s a chance he could become a Laker, but the franchise better have a strong plan and fast.

Case for the Philadelphia 76ers

Philly stopped being the Cleveland Browns of the NBA is started being similar to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The new power house that is on the rise. Consistently getting top 3 picks in the draft started becoming worth it once it all came together. Now throw LeBron in the mix with what they have now. Embiid, Simmons, Fultz, Saric, and a bench full of veterans. A combination that could take the league by storm.

Case against the 76ers

Too young and too hurt. Embiid, Simmons, and Fultz have already had one serious injury in their career. Embiid and Simmons missed their rookie seasons. Fultz almost had the same fate. LeBron doesn’t want a scenerio like the 2015 Finals where the supporting cast was plagued with injuries. The front office issues may not help their case too, but I think with the right hire they can fix that. LeBron would have to take the responsibility in helping prepare this young team for Boston and Golden State. I would be surprised if LeBron has anymore patience left after this past season.

Case for the Boston Celtics

Boston could be the dark horse to land LeBron James. They went into the playoffs with out their two best players and were win away from making the NBA Finals. A team that is stacked with some of the best young talent in the league. Brad Stevens is hands down one of the best coaches in the league and would be the best coach LeBron would have in his career. It may require a sign and trade but Boston would be a lock for the Finals the next few years.

Case against the Celtics

Stating the obvious, Kyrie Irving may have an issue with LeBron joining Boston. Even though James didn’t want Irving traded, the Boston point guard wanted to be “the man” of an organization. Which resulted in Irving being traded. He doesn’t want to be overshadowed by LeBron again. I can see a scenerio where James agrees to a sign and trade, and Kyrie returns to Cleveland. Gordon Hayward and Kevin Love’s name may end up in the conversation as well. Does it really matter if LeBron has Kyrie or not? No. But you need to take in consideration that the team is young with Horford and Rozier being their only valuable veterans. In order to beat a team like the Warriors, you need more experience that matches us well against them. Veteran leadership is key to winning the NBA Finals.

Case for the Miami Heat

There is a chance James takes his talents back to South Beach. The Dwayne Wade experience in Cleveland was short lived. You know LeBron would want to reunite with his best friend. If Miami’s front office plays their cards right, they could trade to get more cap space to add more talent to the roster along side LeBron. It would be a sweet reunion for fans and would put the team in Finals talks once again.

Case against the Heat

Pat Riley was really salty about LeBron’s return to Cleveland. Riley tends to be hard headed. I think he would definitely take James back but he would remind him who runs the show. Riley would have to pull a Dan Gilbert and apologize for everything that was said. But would LeBron really want to go through that again knowing there could still be tension later? Its hard to say. On top of that, Wade isn’t the player he was the last time James was a member of the Heat. Miami would have to blow up the roster to give him the right help. All in all, it sounds a little risky if you’re LeBron James.

Case for the Golden State Warriors

The scenario no one but Golden State fans want to think about. A roster that is already stacked with talent and has won 3 of the last 4 Finals. Everyone knows that if LeBron joins them that he will win at least 3 more rings. The real question is would Golden State agree to a sign and trade with Cleveland? If it guaranteed LeBron James to play along side with Curry and Durant, I think they would pull the trigger on it. The NBA’s worst nightmare.

Case against the Warriors

LeBron James would tarnish his legacy. Fans would never forget he opted to go to the other team because he felt he couldn’t beat them. It would look like a cop out. He wouldn’t look any better than Kevin Durant when he made his decision to sign with Golden State. James would earn more rings and less respect. It would hurt his reputation so bad it would be hard to say if he is the best player of all time. It is an all around bad idea.

Case for temporary retirement

It isn’t very likely LeBron James would retire right now. But for a second let’s play with the idea. He is able to play basketball, but his body took a bigger toll this year. He could tell the league he is retiring for a year, which would give the Cavs and others time to improve their rosters. The 2019 free agency class is bigger than this year’s. LeBron could opt to join that class and help make a superstar team. A fresh LeBron with a new improved team? They would at least make four Finals appearances.

Case against retiring

I don’t know the man personally, but people that follow his career can tell you he is a family and business man. If he took a year off and enjoyed the time away from the court, he may never come back. If you could find a way to take advantage of other opportunities and see your kids more, why wouldn’t you? He might get tempted to never suit up again.

Cleveland Browns Roster Breakdown Following 2018 Offseason

John Dorsey has just wrapped up his first offseason as the general manager of the Cleveland Browns. A team that has seen only one win in the past two seasons and is desperate for a turnaround. Dorsey has a history of developing a winning culture to any franchise he has been a part, but never has he inherited a mess like the Browns. A team that hasn’t seen a winning season in eleven years and a playoff game in sixteen. Will fans finally see a competitve team in Cleveland? Or will they continue to implode in a weak division? Only time will tell. Here’s a roster breakdown a month before training camp.

Quarterback

Any professional football fan could tell you about the plague that is the Cleveland Browns quarterback situation. Tyrod Taylor is set to become the 29th starter since 1999. Dorsey was determined to help end that streak for good. I will give the man credit. I personally believe he put together the best QB group the new franchise has ever acquired. Let’s start with Taylor. He is a proven winner that helped lead the Buffalo Bills to the playoffs in 2017. He is physically and mentally tough. He has a great balance of arm strength and accuracy. Buffalo felt the need to move forward without him and traded him to Cleveland, which may come in the Browns favor. Dorsey then added Drew Stanton who has a reputation of being solid backup and winning record when filling in for injured starters. Then you have the number 1 pick overall of the 2018 NFL Draft, Baker Mayfield. The kid that will hopefully lead the Browns to the Lombardi Trophy someday. But Browns fans have seen it all. Local players Charlie Frye and Brady Quinn fell short of expectations. Along with Quinn, 1st round quarterbacks Tim Couch, Brandon Weeden, and Johnny Manziel’s careers were short lived on the shores of Lake Erie. Couch was the only one to lead the team to playoffs, and due to injury couldn’t play. Fans pray the Heisman winner from Oklahoma is their savior. The best case scenario is that Tyrod plays the whole season and Mayfield takes his time to develop. Coach Jackson has already started a rookie on week 1 before. He won’t rush to do it again. On paper, Browns kick off training camp with a solid QB group.

Current QB Grade: B

Running Back

Stating the obvious, Browns have lacked a lot of things the past few seasons. One of their biggest issues is the lack of the run game. They haven’t had a running back rush for 1,000 yards since Peyton Hillis in 2010. The past few seasons, fans and fantasy football owners were patiently waiting for Isaiah Crowell to break out into one of the top rushers in the league. It never happened. As a result, Crowell never received an extension and signed with the Jets this past March. Browns front office was determined to find the right pieces to bring back that old school Cleveland running game. They went out and signed former Ohio State Buckeye, Carlos Hyde, and drafted Nick Chubb from Georgia. Hyde brings plenty of speed, finesse, and the ability to catch the ball. Hyde rushed for over 1,000 yards last year with San Francisco. Chubb is a power runner that will plow his way through defenses. Browns were able to sign Duke Johnson to a 3 year extension. Johnson was hands down the team’s best offensive playmaker of last season. If this group can stay healthy, they could do some serious damage to opposing offenses.

Current RB Grade: B, but could potentially be an A.

Offensive Line

Cleveland’s quarterback struggles don’t get any better with lack of offensive line performance. Last year was an odd year for offensive lines in the NFL. The league’s new contact practice restrictions really hurt the development of each offensive line unit in the league. The Browns suffered greatly because of it. Overall, the Browns line was healthy all season with an exception of one major injury: Joe Thomas. An injury that played a part in the future Hall of Famer’s retirement. The team goes into the 2018 season with a strong interior made up of Kevin Zeitler, Joe Bitonio, and J.C. Tretter. John Dorsey was able to pry Chris Hubbard away from Pittsburgh to fill the hole at right tackle. The big question is, who will fill the void at left tackle? The training camp matchup looks to be between Shone Coleman (who struggled at right tackle last year but is being trained by Joe Thomas), newly acquired Donald Stephenson (who will serve a 2 game suspension), 2nd round pick Austin Corbett, and former number 2 overall pick Greg Robinson (signed on June 18th). As of right now, most of the o-line is set. But the Browns saw how much the loss of Joe Thomas hurt them on the field. Do they have the right guys to properly protect Tyrod Taylor this season?

Current OL Grade: B

Wide Receiver

In the 2016 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns loaded up on wide receivers hoping to end their receiving woes. Well, it didn’t work. The 1st rounder Corey Coleman has yet to prove to the Browns that he belongs in the NFL, which means potentially the Browns could have wasted another 1st round pick. Rashard Higgins may have actually been the only good receiver pick Cleveland made that whole draft. The rest of them are no longer on the team. Josh Gordon made his triumphant return last season and was in great shape. As longs as he can stay clean, he has the possibility of having a season similar to 2012. Dorsey did something that no Browns GM in recent memory has done. He went out and got a top receiver. For years, fans have suggested bringing in a top receiver to help the quarterbacks out. John Dorsey answered that request by trading for Jarvis Landry. Dorsey continued adding receiving depth by drafting Florida’s Antonio Calloway in the 4th round. Some experts had Calloway as the best receiver in the draft class. But due to legal issues and failed drug tests, Calloway was suspened his final season at Florida. It seems to be a low risk, high reward situation for the Browns. I probably should add he was being trained by Antonio Brown. That could come back and bite Pittsburgh. Let’s hope. Worst case scenario, it’s Josh Gordon all over again. Don’t rule out the additions of Jeff Janis and rookie Damien Ratley helping the team in more ways than one. The big question going into the preseason, will Corey Coleman help or hurt this receiving group? Or should Cleveland invest into one more receiver on the market like a Dez Bryant?

Current WR Grade: B

Tight End

No matter how much the Browns have struggled in my life time, they have always been able to have a reliable tight end on the team. Steve Heiden, Aaron Shea, Kellen Winslow Jr., Jordan Cameron, Ben Watson, and Gary Barnidge just to name a few. Last season the tight ends showed flashes of promise but also showed they had a lot to learn at the pro level. This past offseason the Browns only added Darren Fells who is more known for blocking than receiving. This may show that the front office wants to move forward with Seth DeValve and 1st round pick David Njoku. Both have shown they can be serious weapons on the receiving end. It will be a case of how Todd Haley decides to use them.

Current TE Grade: B

Defensive Line

Statistically last season the Browns were at the bottom of almost every category. Run defense was a different story. Defensive coordinator Greg Williams’ group were one of the top run stoppers in the league last year. At one point in the season, they were compared to past super bowl winners (seriously, look it up). The defensive line was young and athletic. Led by 2017 1st overall pick Myles Garrett, who showed some serious promise in his rookie season. But late in the season, injuries plagued the line and it became harder to contain the run game. Going into the offseason, John Dorsey knew he had to add talent with speed and strength if they were going to compete at the line of scrimmage. He started by trading 1st round pick Danny Shelton to the New England Patriots for a 2019 3rd round pick. Which meant a few things. One, the Browns had given up on another 1st round pick. Two, the team was going with a faster approach at defensive tackle. Instead of getting a guy to clog the middle and take up space, they want to use speed to get to the ball carrier. A strategy many teams in the league are embracing. Trevon Coley and Larry Ogunjobi are the players they’re expected to build the middle around. Both players showed great finesse and speed last season. Caleb Brantley’s future in Cleveland is still up in the air. On the opposite side of Garrett you have the very talented Emmanuel Ogbah, who continues to struggle with injuries in the early part of his pro career. It was mandatory Browns had to add depth in order to avoid imploding after injuries. Dorsey added former Bengal Chris Smith early in the free agency period. Smith was one of the best in the league with pass rushing. Browns went into the drsft wanting to add another pass rusher, and drafted Miami defensive end Chad Thomas in the 3rd round. Thomas was one of the fastest defensive linemen in the class and had a knack for disrupting the quarterback. On paper, the Browns defensive line got younger and faster. However, I was disappointed in the lack of depth at defensive tackle. Dorsey was able to add serious depth in every position this offseason, but seemed to push aside the defensive tackle. Came away from free agency and the draft without picking up one. Maybe we’ll see an undrafted free agent step up and fill the void. The line sounds good on paper but has a lot to prove. Hopefully enough moves were made to improve from last year.

Current DL Grade: C

Linebackers

The only position the Browns may be the best at in the league is linebacker. A stacked group which includes Jamie Collins, Christian Kirksey, and pro bowler Joe Shobert. Browns drafted Genard Avery out of Memphis in the 5th round. He is expected to start out in special teams with his hard hitting playing style. One of the Browns best moves of the offseason came after the draft, and really made heads turn around the the league. The Eagles cut Mychal Kendricks due to cap reasons, and Cleveland signed him to a one year deal. No one actually thought Kendricks would be headed to the shores of Lake Erie. If they can stay healthy, the Browns could have the most elite group of linebackers in the league.

Current LB Grade: A

Defensive Backs

Despite the Browns past issues, they have always been able to put together a decent defensive backs group. That hasn’t been the case the past few seasons. They have struggled to put anything together against the passing attack. Just miserable performances after another. The cornerbacks were unable to match up against receivers. For some reason Jabrill Peppers played his rookie season as a free safety as oppose to a strong safety. That puzzled many fans. Dorsey went defensive back crazy in the spring adding veterans T.J. Carrie, Terrance Mitchell, and E.J. Gaines. He made a trade with the Green Bay Packers to land CB Damarious Randall, who will start at free safety which will move Peppers to strong safety. On draft day, Browns made Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward the 4th overall pick. A sexy pick that was in favor of the fans and the front office. The Browns not only landed a Buckeye but the best cornerback in the draft. Ward is expected to be a starter the first week and hopefully help end the defensive woes for the Browns. Right now it looks like a solid group, many questions still remain. Can Randall adjust at free safety? Will Peppers bounce back after a disappointing rookie season? Browns can’t afford another weak season from their defensive backs.

Current DB Grade: B

Special Teams

There was a time when the Browns special teams squad was consistently one of the best in the league. Cleveland has still not recovered from the departures of Phil Dawson and Josh Cribbs several seasons ago. There has been a new kicker every season since Dawson was let go. They struggle to find any legit returner the past few seasons. Travis Benjamin was their last solid returner before he left for the Chargers. Even if the NFL screwed up the kick return rules, you have to have someone who can help give your offense good starting position. Coordinator Chris Tabor left the Browns for the Bears this past offseason. Tabor was with Cleveland since 2011 and worked with four different head coaches. He was replaced with Amos Jones who coached the Cardinals special teams for six seasons. Hopefully Jones can bring in a positive difference to the team. Roster wise, punter Britton Colquitt seems to be the only bright spot. Browns seem to be entering the 2018 training camp without a for sure answer to kicker and returner. It would be nice to see a new face step up and change that.

Current Special Teams Grade: D