Here’s a fun fact: LeBron James met with six teams in 2010. They were the Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Chicago Bulls. In 2014, he met with two of those teams (the Bulls, Heat, and Cavaliers) along with three new teams (Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers). That means that exactly one-third of the NBA has already been lucky enough to get into a room to pitch LeBron James on joining their franchise at some point in his career.
There would be something pretty neat about the entire league, or even half of it, getting that chance at some point or another. He would only have to meet with five new teams to get there. Of course, some of those slots are certain to be filled. The Philadelphia 76ers are almost certain to get a meeting, for example. The San Antonio Spurs will probably earn one out of James’ sheer respect for Gregg Popovich. If rampant speculation is to be believed, the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors are on the short list. Twitter’s desire to pair James with Anthony Davis has drawn a few ridiculous “well, if LeBron actually wants to win next year, he should consider New Orleans” takes.
The conjecture has flown so far off of the rails that practically every team has been linked to James in some way, shape or form. This is not a little league game, though. Not everyone gets a turn. James will meet with only the very best teams. And he’ll consider even fewer. So for the sake of honesty, let’s whittle down the field. This piece won’t determine where James will sign, however. It will only knock out the teams that he absolutely won’t sign with. There are five teams that, for several reasons, belong in the conversation.
That means that these 25 are not.
Tier 1: Would make less sense than moving to the NFL
Orlando Magic: They’re just happy to be nominated.
Sacramento Kings: Vlade Divac is the only GM in the NBA worse than LeBron.
Atlanta Hawks: Players love Atlanta as a city. You know what they don’t love? Passing to Miles Plumlee.
Detroit Pistons: Detroit missed the playoffs and is still pressed up against the luxury tax.
Memphis Grizzlies: The NBA already threw its body in front of this situation in 2003, and that was before LeBron even had a choice.
Dallas Mavericks: LeBron didn’t even give them a meeting in 2010, when they had won 50 games in a row in 10 straight seasons and Dirk Nowitzki still had enough cartilage to jog.
Charlotte Hornets: Someone is going to be the wise guy who suggests James should go play for Michael Jordan’s team to learn how to be a winner. We know it’s coming. They are somehow in worse basketball and financial shape than Detroit.