You now have permission to ponder what it would be like if LeBron James joined the Golden State Warriors. According to a report from ESPN’s Chris Haynes, LeBron “would listen if Golden State explored ways to clear the necessary cap space” to sign him, meaning he would at least consider teaming up with the defending NBA champions.
The story is heavy with caveats, the most telling of which being its second sentence: “There is no indication that Golden State is evaluating such options to acquire the Cleveland Cavaliers star at this time.”
Golden State would be forced to perform all sorts of cap-space gymnastics in order to make room for James’ max contract. They’d have to rid themselves of all-world guard Klay Thompson (as well as a few other key players), and also convince Kevin Durant to take a sizable pay cut this offseason. At the moment, LeBron to the Warriors is little more than an outlandish thought experiment. Still, it’s a hell of a what if, one made all the more intriguing by its principal player.
Like all good plot twists, LeBron joining the Warriors would be both surprising and completely logical. When James first left the Cavaliers, in 2010, he went from hometown hero to bandwagoning heel. Fans burned his jerseys, and every loss he suffered as a member of the Miami Heat was analyzed like the fall of Ozymandias. Of course, this all made his eventual return to Cleveland, and the team’s 2016 NBA championship run, that much more dramatic. Leaving again to join the rival Warriors would be nothing if not symmetrical.
While the on-court implications of the world’s best player joining the universe’s best team are mind-boggling, those fireworks would pale in comparison to the inevitable media hysteria. Skip Bayless would shed his corporeal form and become a being of pure heat—a second Sun, if you will—forever eliminating the very concept of night across all corners of the globe. That, or he’d eat a live gerbil on TV. Tune in to find out.
If returning to Cleveland in 2014 was his “coming home” moment, then joining the Warriors in 2018 would mark a different kind of return for LeBron. He would once again be sacrificing years of calculated reputation-building, this time to tilt the scales of competitive balance in favor of a team that doesn’t even need his help. It would drive everyone insane. It would be perfect.
LeBron has been the league’s gravitational center for over a decade. His 2010 decision to join the Heat and form a superteam was not an aberration. Rather, it’s primogeniture, and every major move since—Durant on the Warriors, Chris Paul to the Rockets, etc.—is a direct descendant. Should the struggling Cavaliers’ downswing continue, he’s at risk of becoming something he’s never been: inconsequential. It only makes sense then that he would consider joining Golden State to create the only NBA team of any real consequence.
One more thing
If you think Slate’s work matters, become a Slate Plus member. You’ll get exclusive members-only content and a suite of great benefits—and you’ll help secure Slate’s future.Join Slate Plus