The 2017-18 regular season has only just begun. Even though there remain countless storylines of interest to follow in between now and June, it’s still easy to fast forward to the summer in our minds – with another Warriors title, a new draft class and, yes, another free agent frenzy.
We have seen some absolutely insane offseasons recently, particularly over the last decade.
However, each of those episodes could pale in comparison to the summer of 2018 – when LeBron James, still the best overall player in the world, enters free agency once again.
In this edition of the LeBron lottery, plenty of teams that typically don’t have a good chance to sign a star suddenly do.
None of the teams mentioned below are locks to make the playoffs in 2017-18. Whether there is any such thing as a playoff lock is another debate, but today I’m making the rules, and the Spurs and Rockets won’t be adding James, not in this column.
During what should be a mostly meaningless February road game in Atlanta, LeBron becomes mesmerized by Sir Foster (their orgasmic organist) and subsequently demands Dan Gilbert deal him to the Hawks before the trade deadline. Atlanta, 18-38 when James arrives, wins 28 in a row and makes the playoffs at 44-38. Sir Foster’s sweet music inspires LeBron to perform at new levels, but the Hawks still fall in seven games to the Warriors.
Hipster LeBron heads to Brooklyn next summer to join D’Angelo Russell and leads the Nets to the 2019 NBA Finals. Golden State wins its third straight championship, but James scores 100 points in a Game 4 win to avoid the sweep.
His Airness himself arrives at LeBron’s front door with a James Hornets jersey on and says: “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”
In LeBron’s effort to surpass His Airness for G.O.A.T., he winds up bringing his talents to the Windy City.
The idea of playing with Dirk Nowitzki, who announces 2018-19 will be his final NBA season, tantalizes LeBron to the extent that he is willing to forgive Dennis Smith for dunking on him and then screaming April Fool’s in his face. James signs a one-year deal with Dallas, Mark Cuban nearly keels over cackling, and Dirk rides off into the sunset with a second ring – no small thanks to Nerlens Noel and LeBron, as the King once again averages a triple-double in the Finals.
LeBron’s sons continue to show interest and skill in snowboarding, and James himself becomes extremely intrigued by the concept of training year-round in high-altitude Colorado. That and the Nuggets had already catapulted themselves into being one of James’ League Pass darlings.
Empathetic LeBron takes center stage, as he decides to make it his personal goal to turn Stan Van Gundy’s frown upside down.
Myles Turner impresses James in the All-Star game, and Victor Oladipo offers glimpses of being a middle-class Dwyane Wade. Both of their breakout seasons combined with the feeling of playing in the FieldHouse push LeBron to Indianapolis.
Los Angeles Clippers
LeBron plans a midnight meeting with the Lakers, but just to let them know he’s signing with the Clippers.
Los Angeles Lakers
Lonzo Ball’s brilliance as a passer and Luke Walton’s aura sweep LeBron off his feet and into a Laker uniform.
Grit N’ Grind would’ve been a scary landing spot from the point of view of the rest of the league. LeBron, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley could be considered title favorites playing 3-on-5. Someone give Memphis a mulligan on the Chandler Parsons contract.
Hello again from South Beach. LeBron’s familiarity with Erik Spoelstra, Pat Riley and winning leads him back to the Heat.
In a weird turn of events, the Timberwolves trade Andrew Wiggins back to Cleveland in exchange for LeBron James.
New Orleans Pelicans
The most glaring weakness on the Pelicans roster is along the wing. Realizing he can make up the difference in salary on Bourbon Street thanks to his uncanny ability to play jazz flute, LeBron accepts the veterans minimum and joins New Orleans.
New York Knicks
On the eve before free agency, a unicorn named Kristaps appears in James’s dreams. And you can guess the rest.
A firm believer that Stuff the Magic Dragon is the top mascot in the NBA, James opts for Orlando. Space Jam 2 is coming soon.
This makes little sense given the presence of LeBron look-a-like point forward Ben Simmons. But crazier things have happened.
A hypnotist convinces James that the theory about dry heat not being so bad is true, so James decides to give it a go with the young core of Devin Booker, Josh Jackson and 2018 lottery pick Mohamed Bamba.
Portland Trail Blazers
Playing alongside the smaller Splash Brothers in what’s essentially infinite space guides LeBron’s heart to the northwest.
De’Aaron Fox’s freakish will to defend is reminiscent of Alana Beard, and that alone sways James to Sacramento.
Ricky Rubio’s two-way moxie, Rudy Gobert’s defense and Donovan Mitchell’s upside prove too compelling to pass on.