LOS ANGELES, CA
Just three days after Lebron James announced that he would be opting out of the final year of his contract with the Lakers and hitting the free agency market, the King has reportedly signed on to join the LA Lakers. News of the signing broke by multiple sports outlets this evening. The sports agency that represents James reportedly put out a press release and the news took off like a wildfire. James’ team reportedly met with the 76ers just this afternoon. The meeting was likely just a formality as James had likely made up his mind to play in LA next season awhile ago. With James going to LA and Paul George resigning with the Thunder, the only big news left in NBA free agency is where will Kawhi Leonard land? I expect we will find out shortly. I expect the Lakers to be making a move to grab another big free agent signing. I’m pretty sure Lebron didn’t go to LA just to have to carry another team full of misfits and undesirables. He could’ve stayed in Cleveland if he wanted to do that again.
Multiple sports news outlets have reported that Lebron James will not pick up the player option on the final year of his contract, and will become an unrestricted free agent. Leaving one big question left to be answered. Where will Lebron James take his talents next season?
NBA free agency doesn’t officially begin until, 12:01 am est on Sunday. I believe Lebron James won’t need to wait until Sunday to decide what team he wants to sign with. I believe Lebron made that decision as he was leaving the court after the final game of the NBA finals earlier this month. He just hasn’t informed us of his decision yet.
According to NBA analyst and “experts”, the three hot spots for a King’s landing are Philly, LA, and Houston. I’ve heard places like San Antonio mentioned vaguely. It’s been reported that James has multiple houses in LA and has already enrolled his kids in schools in the Los Angeles area. To me, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to play for the Lakers, it might just mean he’s eyeing a team on the West Coast. I do believe James relocating his fam to LA does take the 76ers completely out of the equation. BUT, I do believe Bron’s interest in LA opens a lane for the 2nd biggest free agent on the market to want to take a long look at Philly before he decides where he wants to play next season. No, I’m not talking about Kawhi. I’m talking about Paul George. And if he does decide to go to Philly, the rest of the Eastern Conference better beware. Philly will become a serious force in the East. But, however this all plays out, one thing is certain, this is going to be a very interesting off-season!
LOS ANGELES, CA
The LA Clippers have traded point guard Austin Rivers to the Washington Wizards for Center Marcin Gortat. ESPN’S Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) was first to break the news late this afternoon. Rivers played in and started 61 games for the Clippers in the 2017-2018 season and averaged 15.1 pts per game and 4 assist. Gortat played in and started all 82 games for the Wizards last season and averaged 8.4 pts and 7.6 rebounds per game.
With the 10th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft the Philadelphia 76ers selected Mikal Bridges from the Villanova Wildcats. The pick had more significance than the obvious. We all know Villanova is a college in the Philly area. Not only was this the first time a Villanova player was drafted by the hometown 76ers, but Nova’s Mikal Bridges is also a guy who comes from the Philadelphia area. (Malvern, P.A.) Also, Mikal’s mother, Tyneeha Rivers works for the 76ers, in the team’s HR department. It all seems like the perfect set up for a Cinderella story. By the time this night would end, that dream would be turned into a nightmare. (Not really, Mikal will still be living out his dreams of playing in the NBA next season, just not with his hometown 76ers. I just added “nightmare” because it sounds more dramatic.)
Bridges, his mother, Villanova head coach Jay Wright, and a host of family and friends gathered around, beamed with pride and joy as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced that the 76ers had selected Bridges with the 10th overall pick in the NBA draft. Bridges must’ve felt as if he was in a dream when he walked to the podium wearing a 76ers hat as he shook the Commisioner’s hand. Next, it was off to do interviews with national and local media and talk about how excited he was to be playing for a team that is clearly on the rise. With the uncertainty of Markelle Fultz’s role on the team moving forward, there was a good possibility that Bridges might not only be playing for a real contender next season, but might also see significant playing time. A lot to look forward to for a young player. A dream come true. Meanwhile, the 76ers organization were on some whole other sh*t. The 76ers likely never drafted Bridges looking for him to play on their squad. Yes, Bridges was a part of the process, but not in the way he probably hoped for.
I think the 76ers still believe Philly may be a possible landing spot for Lebron James or Kawhi Leonard during the offseason search for a superstar free agent signing. The 76ers believe they are one player away from being the team to come out of the Eastern Conference next season. They have a legitimate reason to feel that way too. 1) The young 76ers are really good. 2) The Eastern Conference as a collective is really bad. If there were ever a good time to make a serious run at a championship, that time is now. The 76ers are making moves based on this theory. Sadly, Mikal Bridges didn’t fit the bill with this type of thinking. Drafting him was little more than trade bait.
Bridges was unaware that the hometown squad was already looking to move him as he did his interviews and talked about how excited he was to be a part of the 76ers franchise and play alongside the likes of rising stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. A short time later, the 76ers finalized a trade they’d been working on from the moment they drafted Bridges. He was on his way to Phoenix. He’d been traded for one of the Suns earlier picks, guard Zhaire Smith, and more importantly, an unprotected 2021 first round pick. (A move that makes Markelle Fultz’s future role with the 76ers even more questionable in my opinion) Bridges and his family handled the situation with class as he put on his best fake smile as he was interviewed about the trade. Bridges even went as far as to say how excited he was to be a part of the Suns franchise. That statement surely held a lot of truth to it. I mean, playing in the NBA is many kids dream. Mikal Bridges dreams came true on draft night, but playing for a young rebuilding team like Phoenix vs. playing for your hometown team which is on the rise, is a hell of a big difference. And likely “hella” disappointing. But on the bright side, Mikal Bridges is officially an NBA player. How many people in the world can say that?