Until LeBron James makes his free agency decision, the most of the rest of NBA free agency will be placed on hold as every team with a significant budget waits to see where James ends up and top players, most notably Paul George, also could be part of a package deal with LeBron.
That is why, along with fewer top stars on the unrestricted market, this year’s free agency talk has been almost exclusively about what James will do. As of now, most are expecting him to end up in Los Angeles, with the Lakers suddenly becoming the heavy favorites on betting markets to land James (and George as well).
However, Cleveland will factor in heavily, as LeBron has said family will be a major determining factor in his decision. The Rockets and Spurs seem all but out of the equation, but the Sixers will still likely make a strong push for LeBron with the best combination of money and situation to offer.
Joel Embiid is a big reason why the Sixers are an enticing destination for James, as he and Ben Simmons (who is close to LeBron) make up one of the best young cores in the league. Not only that, but they’ve proven they have what it takes to make it to the second round of the playoffs, although they also showed their youth with late mistakes in games throughout their run.
Embiid spoke with USA Today ahead of the draft and was asked to make his pitch to James, and the message was simple and on brand.
“Trust the process,” Embiid said. …
“He’s the best player in the league at this moment, so I think he takes us to another level, which is important because at the end of the day, I want to be a champion,” said Embiid. “I want to do it myself. I want to have a lot to do with winning a championship or bringing a championship back to the city of Philadelphia.”
It’s interesting that within the same statement where he voices his pitch to land James he also voices his desire to do it “myself,” when it comes to becoming a champion. That isn’t to say it’s a hypocritical statement, as the two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but more of a great look at the modern NBA.
In today’s league, bringing a championship to a city means having to partner with another star. That’s, truly, always been the case, but in today’s NBA there is far more agency from the players in where they do that and Embiid’s statement here, unwittingly, is an admission of that. He wants to bring a title to Philly and he wants to be a key cog in that wheel, but more than ever NBA superstars are understanding the reality of the task at hand of dethroning the Warriors and they must be active in pursuing help to reach the top. We’ll just have to wait until early July to see if LeBron is willing to trust in Embiid and Simmons as those other pieces.