It may be too early for this kind of exercise, but impending free agency, even a year down the line, for a star like LeBron James is always a major deal. He changed the scope of free agency with The Decision in 2010, and 2023 could be his last big move.
James will turn 38 years old during next season. With that being said, he rarely shows signs of slowing down. Last season he averaged 30 points, eight rebounds, and six assists per game. These are incredible numbers for a player of his age, and although the Los Angeles Lakers didn’t make the playoffs, James was the lone bright spot. He’s likely to remain a very impactful player for the next few seasons.
The Best 2023 Free Agency Fits for LeBron James
Los Angeles Lakers
This list, of course, has to start with the Lakers. James is there now and the team remains the biggest brand in the league.
They won the title in 2020, but have been full of question marks ever since. The Russell Westbrook dilemma is still going on. Anthony Davis struggles to stay healthy. The supporting cast is bleak. It remains to be seen what the Lakers will look like next season and how they’ll perform, which of course can change a lot in James’ decision.
Los Angeles isn’t expected to win the championship next year, so let’s stick with that projection. Come 2023, the roster is very clean. Davis will still be under a hefty contract, whereas Talen Horton-Tucker and Damian Jones have player options. Outside of that, the roster is clean. This could potentially allow the Lakers to re-sign James and bring in more talent. The market will be deep with stars such as Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins, D’Angelo Russell, and others (including several high-end role players). There will also be several players on player options, such as James Harden and Khris Middleton.
In short, there will be plenty of potential for the Lakers to build a star-studded team.
This, of course, would be yet another homecoming. The Cavaliers were extremely successful throughout James’ second stint in the city, and will surely welcome him back. This time, however, James won’t have to orchestrate much change in the roster.
Cleveland has built a strong team. Darius Garland is an All-Star and growing to be one of the top guards in the entire league. Jarrett Allen was also an All-Star and a defensive menace. Evan Mobley is a star-in-the-making. Lauri Markkanen is another solid player under contract, although not fully guaranteed. Ricky Rubio provides a veteran presence, while there are other young players such as Isaac Okoro and rookie Ochai Agbaji.
Garland can provide James with the Irving role. This time around, however, James would have an even more talented frontcourt. He’ll also bring the best out of the young players.
It would be James’ third stint with the Cavaliers, but the intrigue is definitely enticing.
Joining the Mavericks would place James alongside a complete superstar in Luka Doncic. Of course, James has always been of high praise to the Slovenian star. Pairing them up would terrorize opposing defenses.
Doncic just finished last season averaging about 28 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists per game. He took the Mavericks to the conference finals, only to fall to James’ rival in the Golden State Warriors. In short, Doncic will be the best player James has ever played with. Yes – he’s better than Davis and Dwyane Wade.
A number of players come off the books for Dallas in 2023 such as Christian Wood, Dwight Powell, and Maxi Kleber. Dallas will still have other impactful players under contract such as Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, Reggie Bullock, and more. The Mavericks may also be inclined to trade the contracts of Davis Bertans and/or Tim Hardaway Jr.
Dallas can be stacked if they were to make this move. A duo of Doncic and James will also attract plenty of other players as that immediately creates a surefire contender.