Q: This kinda came out of nowhere, didn’t it?
Yeah, it’s kinda wild. One day, you’re pondering if Shabazz Napier will be the Wizards’ top free agent signing, now we’re talking about LeBron James. The NBA is weird league.
Q: Who got this going?
It depends on who you ask. Of course, any time a guy like James hits the free agent market, you have to think about the idea of him going to any team. So in a way, we all started this. Beyond that, Wiz of Awes made a good case for why LeBron should go to D.C. over the weekend.
However, the train really got rolling when Michael Wilbon talked about the idea on Tony Kornheiser’s podcast earlier this week when they were talking about potential destinations for LeBron in free agency. Here’s a little bit of what he had to say:
“Suppose, given LeBron’s outspokenness, his engagement, his involvement, his engagement with what is going on nationally, culturally. Suppose he decides that the place he can do this best …”
(At this point, co-hosts Gary Braun and Chris Cilizza start to get excited about what Wilbon is about to say, one of them exclaiming, “Yes, Michael, say it!”)
“… and join two max players is the Washington Wizards.”
Frankly, I found this line of reasoning a little flimsy. He’s already cultivated a worldwide audience and developed a strong political presence in Cleveland, Ohio. If anything, it would make sense to be in a swing state like Ohio or Pennsylvania where he could use his clout to encourage fans to be the difference in tight elections.
However, Wilbon wrote about the idea more in a column for The Undefeated on Wednesday, where he made some other arguments that are quite intriguing.
Of all the places Laurene Powell Jobs, the billionaire philanthropist and entrepreneur and one of the richest women in the world, could have invested her considerable resources, she only a few months ago bought a significant stake in what sports enterprise? Monumental Sports and Entertainment, the parent company of the Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards.
Jeff Bezos, one of the richest people in the world, could have set up camp anywhere but chose the nation’s capital, specifically The Washington Post, and is renovating the largest home in D.C., where his neighbors include the Obamas. Amazon’s HQ2 may not be far behind. Bezos isn’t bringing fascinating people to interact and engage, with all due respect, to Cleveland; he’s bringing them to Washington.
Jobs and Bezos, in a great tradition, came to Washington to expand their power bases. So did Kevin Plank, Under Armour’s founder and CEO. Most of the Fortune 500 companies and every country in the world have a presence in D.C., not San Antonio or New Orleans. LeBron would be in fabulous company.
Kevin Durant became a big investor in Silicon Valley after joining the Warriors, and James could do the same thing in Washington without leaving the comforts of the Eastern Conference. There’s a good business argument to be made here.
Q: Does LeBron have any other ties with Washington?
Don’t forget John Wall is represented by Rich Paul, LeBron James’ agent. If James wanted to team up with someone under in the Klutch family, Wall would be the most sensical target considering his star power and his ability to make the most of the end of James‘ peak.
Did we mention James is a big fan of Washington?
After all these years I still love DC! Always show me so much Love back— LeBron James (@KingJames) February 10, 2012
Also, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out Washington knows how to throw great title parades, and if he’s into arena football, there’s no better place to be than the Washington-Baltimore corridor.
Q: Is there a good basketball reason for James to join the Wizards?
I think this is actually the most compelling part of the argument. For as much as the Wizards struggled this season, their pitch is pretty solid. Consider the following:
- Washington is in the Eastern Conference. Staying in the East gives LeBron the easiest path to the Finals, no matter what team he’s on. If you swap out Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre for LeBron James, Washington is the favorite to win the East, regardless of what other players go around Wall, Beal, and LeBron. Just imagine this year’s team with a player who had a 47 percent usage rate and a 63 percent true shooting percentage in clutch situations.
- While Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons may be better franchise cornerstones, Wall and Beal are the best second and third pieces to support LeBron in the East for the next 2-3 years while his title window is still open. Wall can lighten James’ playmaking load and has a serviceable enough shot to keep defenses honest, unlike Simmons. And while Beal is no Joel Embiid, his outside shooting might jell better with how James wants to do things than Embiid’s post-up game. Moreover, Wall and Beal are far more battle-tested in the playoffs than Simmons and Embiid, who both struggled mightily in their five-game loss to the Celtics in the second round of the playoffs.
- Depending on how things shake out with acquiring LeBron, the Wizards could still have some movable expiring contracts they can use to re-shape the roster around James. Even if they can’t, the supporting cast is no worse than what he has in Cleveland right now.
- LeBron could also really boost his legacy by winning a title in Washington while tearing other greats donw. Not only would he become the first player to lead three different franchises to titles, but by doing it in Washington, he delivers a key blow to two of his biggest rivals. He sticks it to MJ by winning a title in Washington late in his career, and he sticks it to Kevin Durant by winning a title over the Warriors with KD’s hometown team. I’m not saying that would make him the GOAT, but it would help his case quite a bit.
Q: There’s no chance this really happens, right?
Come on, of course not. You shouldn’t feel bad for thinking about it, but we all know how this ends.
Nick Young and several Wizards have told people that they're blown away by the explosiveness of Vesely, can't wait to play with him.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 24, 2011
I'm always wary of absolutes at the early juncture, but - FWIW - was told Wizards/Lakers have no shot at Durant https://t.co/aGIxXWll2m— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) June 25, 2016
Horford had been incredibly intrigued with Wizards and there was a time that he preferred Washington's talent over Boston's. Wild finish.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 2, 2016
Q: It would be such a LeBron thing to tease the idea of joining the Wizards and then pull the rug out at the last second, wouldn’t it?