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What Would It Take to Trade for LeBron James?

Here are some hypothetical offers for what would immediately become one of the most wild trades in NBA history

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

LeBron James can’t be traded—literally. He has a no-trade clause in his contract and is not considering dropping it, per Yahoo’s Shams Charania. But that report got us thinking: If James were available for trade, what would it take to land him? He’s in the final year of his contract, which makes a deal easier, but the price for the NBA’s best player is still astronomical. Here’s what we came up with:

Nuggets receive: LeBron James, Derrick Rose, Jae Crowder, Channing Frye
Cavs receive: Jamal Murray, Emmanuel Mudiay, Juancho Hernangomez, Malik Beasley, Tyler Lydon, Mason Plumlee, Kenneth Faried, two unprotected first-round picks

Justin Verrier: LeBron is a businessman, and the pot industry is booming. So let’s give Denver all the offense. Murray and Nikola Jokic have shown flashes of what could be a dangerous, versatile pick-and-roll combination, but imagine what LeBron could do on those screens from Big Lonzo, with Gary Harris and Paul Millsap (when he returns) spreading the floor, and Will Barton cutting back door. We’re also giving the Nugs Rose and Crowder, if only as a cruel joke on LeBron, and bringing Frye back to Richard Jefferson to continue their assault on the Gimlet Media empire.

The Cavs, meanwhile, have to absorb Plumlee’s and Faried’s bad deals, but they get picks and the Nuggets’ interesting youngsters—literally all of them—to start fresh.

Sixers receive: LeBron James
Cavaliers receive: Markelle Fultz, Dario Saric, J.J. Redick, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, two future firsts, cash considerations, a lifetime supply of Tastykakes, and the Billy Penn statue atop City Hall

John Gonzalez: Sometimes you need a change of scenery, even when you didn’t really experience the original scenery in the first place. That’s where we are with Fultz. Breaking down grainy cellphone videos of him shooting free throws on various practice courts has been fun and all, but let’s give the poor lad a chance to succeed. In Cleveland. He can be their next Anthony Bennett. Plus, the Cavs would get Dario, a pair of future firsts, Redick’s expiring contract to free up free-agent funds, an unending cache of delicious provincial dessert items, and a super fun statue that would go great with Cleveland’s civic aesthetic.

And the Sixers get LeBron. Totally fair.

Bucks receive: LeBron James
Cavaliers receive: Khris Middleton, Jabari Parker, Tony Snell, and Thon Maker

Danny Chau: Before Jason Kidd lost all of his common sense this season, he was the architect of some pretty NBA Live–quality lineups. It’s time for the franchise to take video game basketball to its logical extreme. I want to live in a world where the two best players in the Eastern Conference are on the same team, playing point forward and point center, respectively, surrounded by players who can also serve as tertiary, quaternary, and quinary ball handlers. Give me a lineup of LeBron and Giannis Antetokounmpo with Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon, and Sterling Brown. It’ll work, I promise.

Celtics receive: LeBron James
Cavaliers receive: Gordon Hayward

T.C. Kane: Danny Ainge has a long history of trading players, beloved in Boston or otherwise. Here, he ships out a man who agonized over his decision to join the Celtics, and later agonized over his left leg, which he broke five minutes into his Celtics career. Ainge feels nothing for Hayward, and feels even less for Kyrie Irving, who would surely raise the question of the Illuminati’s involvement in a deal that places him squarely back in the shadow he just recently escaped from. Koby Altman’s new core of Hayward and Kevin Love is solid, although he’d have preferred if Ainge hadn’t hung up so promptly when he brought up Terry Rozier.

Bucks receive: LeBron James
Cavaliers receive: Khris Middleton, Mirza Teletovic, Jabari Parker, Malcolm Brogdon

Paolo Uggetti: LeBron gets to stay in the East and be paired with Giannis Antetokounmpo, who will carry him into his late 30s while still getting to the Finals. Plus, he finally gets to play with Eric Bledsoe, and the Cavs get a nice haul comprised of a former second overall pick, a couple of role players, and a young asset. Not enough? Throw in a pick, too.

Raptors receive: LeBron James
Cavaliers receive: Serge Ibaka, C.J. Miles, OG Anunoby, Norman Powell, and two first-round picks

Haley O’Shaughnessy: LeBron’s playing style could very well mess up the ball movement that transformed this Raptors offense. But he would also finally be among teammates capable of spacing, and for the all-time assists leader among forwards, that paints a beautiful, high-scoring picture. Toronto is one major piece—specifically, a forward—away from having a serious chance at it all. Why not trade for one atop the MVP race?