July 1st is a few days away as of this writing and EVERBODY. IS. SCRAMBLING. TO. TALK. ABOUT. LBJ. Since I hate being left out in the cold with naught but a small towel to cover my genitals (it's a really small towel), I decided to take shelter in the Motel LeBron at 54 bucks a night plus cable. The first of what may or may not be a recurring segment here at Slippery Brawlers, I take a look at what would happen if LeBron James went clinically insane and signed for the Mid-Level Exception for your Philadelphia 76ers. Please be aware that none of this, and I mean none of it, will ever happen in your or my lifetime. Every word you are about to read is false down to its core. Except this one. And this one. Et al.
If you are someone who gets overly excited about reading fanatical words and goes to the northwestern United States in hopes of seeing the Cullen family in action, I don't recommend reading on. But if you're just hankerin' for some good country B.S., by all means be my guest. You can warm your mukluks by the fire. Coffee's in the kitchen, ask Marie to get you some. Continental Breakfast available from 9 to 12 tomorrow morning. This motel metaphor working for anybody?
I'll meet you inside after the jump.
Forgetting every logical, contractual, sembiotical fact, imagine LeBron James signs with the Sixers in a few days. Then what? Move Andre? Package Turner with Brand to get rid of Elton's fat contract? Move Jrue with Elton and slide Turner to point guard with Andre and Bron at the wings? The possibilities are endless. I'm gonna pick my favorite hypothetical and run with it, then see what happens.
Move Brand to the 5 and run a 3-wing set out there. Is it ideal defensively for LeBron to be bumping up against power forwards in the post? No. But since we're dealing exclusively with the absurd, we'll forget about the impact that would have on LeBron's LeBody and move on. Imagine teams having to gameplan for Iguodala, Turner, and James. Who could defend that? The offense would have to consist of tons of spacing and cutting resulting in open looks from deep. Brand would play much more with his back to the basket, and success would hinge on hitting shots off penetration. Nocioni and Kapono would be tremendously valuable camping on the wings, but that's not nearly as entertaining to ponder as Evan and Andre so they can stay on the bench.
Let's look at this roster and how it matches up against the World Champion Los Angeles Lakers.
PG - Jrue Holiday, Louis Williams
SG - Evan Turner, Jodie Meeks, Willie Green
SF - Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, Andres Nocioni, Jason Kapono
PF - LeBron James, Marreese Speights, Jason Smith
C - Elton Brand, Spencer Hawes
I think in this instance, we'd move Lou and Thad for a backup point guard and a pick, but let's leave them in here anyway. While Brand is your only frontcourt player, the rest of the starters are tremendous rebounders for their position so I don't think I'd be too worried. Here's the Lakers projected lineup with a few liberties taken by myself:
PG - Derek Fisher, Jordan Farmar
SG - Kobe Bryant, Shannon Brown, Sasha Vujacic
SF - Ron Artest, Luke Walton, Devin Ebanks, Adam Morrison
PF - Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Derrick Caracter
C - Andrew Bynum
Who budges first? Do the Sixers move Turner or Iguodala to the bench in favor of Speights or Hawes to body up on one of the other big men? Or, again, move Holiday and slide Turner to the point so one of the other bigs can step in. If nobody budges, LeBron would have to cover Gasol with Brand on Bynum. Neither of those matchups is good for us. I'd imagine plenty of rotations for our the 5 spot.
But on the other side of the coin, run through the defensive nightmares for whoever coaches the Lake Show next season. Gasol or Bynum would have to cover LeBron/Andre/Turner here. I don't think that's a possibility. I'd bet they leave Odom in at the 4 for most of the game and sub Bynum and Gasol back and forth. Ron-Ron would cover Bron-Bron, Kobe would D up on Turner, and Lamar would have to stick Andre. It's less painful for the Lakers, but still a huge mismatch in our favor. And this isn't even mentioning the advantages Jrue would have over the aging Derek Fisher, nor the fact that the Lakers are the best and one of the most versatile teams in the league and against anyone else aside from maybe the Thunder, nobody can stick us. Actually, let's look at Oklahoma City for a second.
SG - James Harden, Daequan Cook
SF - Kevin Durant, Thabo Sefolosha, Morris Peterson
PF - Jeff Green, Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison, D.J. White
C - Cole Aldrich, Nenad Krstic, B.J. Mullens
Wow. I think LeBron eats up any of Harden/Durant/Green/Thabo, but let's just say Green sticks him. Durant on Iguodala? Harden on Turner makes sense, and Westbrook-Holiday would be a nice matchup. Cole and Brand have similar styles offensively, with Cole having a size advantage and a few post moves to his credit. It remains to be seen how OKC weaves in new guys, but I'd say one of Collison/Krstic is gone before the season starts. Ryan Reid will not make this roster, and I'm letting Latavious Williams stay in the D-League for a while. This is a heckuva team though, and I'd love to see how this game would play out.
James obviously makes any team a title contender and the Sixers are certainly no different. Now let's all put away the incense and enjoy the LeBron media donkey show that will be airing on national television over the next however-long-he-wants-to-draw-this-thing-out. Use this as a LeBron thread for where you think he's going to end up and what the fallout would be for the rest of the league. Or just drop your backpack, lie on the grass, and stare up at the clouds with me and wonder: "What If."