BESTOFFER: Best LeBron James trade offer 76ers could’ve…

Best LeBron James trade offer 76ers could’ve made to Lakers at deadline.

This is the best the 76ers could do without including Tyrese Maxey.

In a Valentine’s Day bombshell dropped by Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, a couple of teams reportedly tried to make a run at Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James right before the 2024 NBA trade deadline, including the Philadelphia 76ers. The Golden State Warriors headlined the report as they made an “unsuccessful bid” to bring James to The Bay Area and pair him with Stephen Curry. But what got a little bit lost in the shuffle was the 76ers’ attempt to pry James away from Los Angeles.

Well, Daryl Morey’s efforts weren’t quite extensive, as the Lakers reportedly shut them down immediately. Per Woj and Shelburne, Morey reportedly called Lakers GM Rob Pelinka and inquired about James’ availability. Pelinka confirmed that their franchise star wasn’t available. He even apparently asked Morey if Philly’s franchise star Joel Embiid was on the table, which put a stop to the conversation.

Still, it would be worth pondering just what could have happened had the Lakers actually taken calls on James at the request of the four-time NBA champion. Los Angeles reportedly referred the Warriors to James’ agent Rich Paul first to get his thoughts on a trade. James reportedly had no intentions of getting dealt and wanted to remain in Los Angeles.

While the 76ers’ part of the story didn’t generate as much buzz as that of the Warriors, it’s still worth thinking just what a Joel Embiid and LeBron James pairing would look like. So for the purposes of what-ifs and daydreams, let’s look at the best trade the Philadelphia 76ers could have offered the Lakers for LeBron James.

Best 76ers trade offer to the Lakers for LeBron James

Philadelphia 76ers receive: LeBron James

Los Angeles Lakers receive: Tobias Harris, Jaden Springer, Paul Reed, 2028 1st round pick (via Clippers), 2029 1st round pick (via Clippers)

This is perhaps the best deal the Philadelphia 76ers could have offered in a trade for a 39-year-old LeBron James at the deadline without including Tyrese Maxey. In this deal, the 76ers give up a package of Tobias Harris’ expiring contract as the main salary piece, with Jaden Springer, Paul Reed, and two 1st round picks they received from the James Harden trade to the Clippers earlier this season. In exchange, the 76ers land James and pair him with Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey.

The trio of Embiid, James, and Maxey would instantly place Philadelphia alongside the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks in the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference. The 76ers are essentially swapping Tobias Harris with the 4-time MVP in this hypothetical, so that would be a massive win on their part.

At the same time, he should further enhance Embiid’s offense as well. Though James plays best with the ball in his hands, he has shown willingness and capability to play off ball. Embiid has become a much-improved playmaker this season and James as a cutter could make for some devastating and effective offense for Philadelphia.

James’ arrival also means that Maxey will no longer be the 76ers’ main facilitator as James would likely take the reins as the primary playmaker. Nonetheless, Maxey has shown that he is capable of playing off the ball and is even more effective as a scorer when doing so.

In addition, given that James could potentially opt out of his $51.4 million player option next season, the 76ers can maintain their flexibility and potentially re-tool during the summer to put together a more suitable supporting cast surrounding their new Big Three.

LeBron James, Tyrese Maxey, Joel Embiid, 76ers, NBA Trade Deadline

Would the Lakers consider this trade?

The Lakers would’ve undoubtedly asked for Maxey in such a deal. But in this hypothetical world, James would’ve given the Lakers the go-signal to trade him, which suggests he wouldn’t stick around past this season if they opted to keep him. With that, the Lakers lose their leverage and would have to deal with the fact that they must trade James for whatever they can get, or else they will lose him for nothing in the offseason.

As such, the 76ers could probably get away without including Maxey in this trade at the deadline and instead offer the Lakers an expiring contract, a solid young piece in Springer, and two potentially premium draft picks from the Clippers. Los Angeles’ inter-town rivals are also in win-now mode, so who knows just what they’ll look like in 2028. Those two picks are essentially going to be gold for the Purple and Gold.

Luckily for the Lakers, The King seems committed to the franchise for this season at least. Let’s revisit this once again in the offseason if James becomes a free agent.

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