Boston Celtics: How the team could deal for LeBron James (update)

BOSTON, MA - MAY 25: LeBron James
BOSTON, MA - MAY 25: LeBron James /

Would Lebron James come to the Boston Celtics, and would Cleveland consider trading him if he waives his no-trade clause?

As many of you already know, Kyrie Irving has requested a trade from The Cleveland Cavaliers. There is a rumor that Kyrie was tired of being second fiddle to Lebron James and wanted to be the man. It has also been assumed that Lebron is going to leave Cleveland next year as a free agent. This is now old news. However, with the report of Kyrie possibly leaving, Cleveland has some hard decisions to make. Could LeBron end up on the Boston Celtics?

Cleveland may attempt to trade both Kyrie and Lebron, but it may prove more difficult to trade Lebron (he has a no-trade clause). However, if Kyrie is traded, one wonders if Lebron would be more open to waiving his no-trade clause for certain contending teams which leads us to the title question; is Lebron James attainable by the Boston Celtics?

Let’s consider the things we do know. Lebron has respect for Boston. On numerous occasions, he has publicly exposed support for Brad Stevens as well as for particular players on the team such as Jaylen Brown and Isaiah Thomas. While he has been arch enemy number one since the big three and Lebron were duking it out in Lebron’s first Cleveland tour, Lebron, even post-prime Lebron, is good enough to give any championship contender a real chance at the crown.

In case it was not already obvious at this point, Lebron cannot carry a team on his own or with only Kevin Love as his number two. It would be more disastrous than the thorough beating by the Warriors last month.

There are no premier free agents left with which to recharge upon Kyrie’s potential departure. It is possible that Kyrie trade could bring in an impact player, such as Carmelo Anthony, but nothing that would move the needle past the Warriors. Also, while we cannot assume Cavs owner Dan Gilbert will be rational, the most rational move in the situation, considering the Golden State Warriors’ immediate dominance, is to burn it down and play for the future, especially with Lebron probably leaving next year.

With all of this info on the table, the question then becomes if Lebron will waive his no-trade clause and try to win one this year by joining a contender; he only has so many good years left.

Update: Now that a source has come out that Lebron James is 100% going to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers at the end of the year, it is appropriate to look at the most likely trade scenarios possible if Lebron decides to waive his no-trade clause.

Boston Celtics:

From Cleveland ownership’s perspective, this is the best team to trade with. The Boston Celtics have lots of assets, both as current players and future draft picks. A trade centered around Jae Crowder, who is on one of the very team friendliest contracts in the NBA considering his value, the Brooklyn draft pick and one of the young guys probably could get this done.

CLEVELAND, OH – MAY 23: Iman Shumpert
CLEVELAND, OH – MAY 23: Iman Shumpert /

Similar to Paul George, he is only a rental so it would be curious to see if Danny Ainge would pull the trigger on such a deal. Maybe there is some wiggle room on the young players or the Brooklyn pick.

From Lebron’s perspective, he gets to stay in the Eastern Conference, almost assuring that he makes it back to the Finals, barring injury, and has proven scorer teammates in Isaiah Thomas and Gordon Hayward, not to mention one of the best passing bigs in the NBA in Al Horford.

Additionally, unlike the current Cavaliers team, this Celtics team is very deep, with great up and coming players of which a couple will undoubtedly become starters at some point this year (possibly over Jae Crowder) without Lebron. Instead, they would be leading a strong bench unit the whole year.

Houston Rockets:

Houston has fewer assets than the Celtics but they could create a package centered around strong up and comer Clint Capela, who is still on his rookie contract, a couple younger guys, and a couple of first round picks.

While Capela would be a nice get, they are possibly already without any 2018 or 2019 first round picks (the year depends on protections) which means the earliest they could offer their first round picks would be 2020 or 2021, because of the Stepien rule. Also, their draft picks are projected to be pretty low for the foreseeable future.

LeBron would get to play with his friend and star Chris Paul as well as superstar James Harden, forming a big three that could possibly rival the Warriors. However, Chris Paul is slightly beyond his prime and he would have to play in the rugged Western Conference making it tough to get to even the Conference Finals.

San Antonio Spurs:

From Cleveland ownership’s perspective, San Antonio could center a package around exciting youngster Dejounte Murray as well as a couple first round draft picks. However, similar to Houston’s situation, San Antonio’s first round picks are projected to be pretty low for a while.

From Lebron’s perspective, he gets to play for the San Antonio Spurs and one of the best coaches of all time in Gregg Popovich. He also is joined by superstar Kawhi Leonard and star Leonard Aldridge as well as past their prime stars Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. Again, it would be a tough time living in the Western Conference.

Washington Wizards:

Washington does not have much to offer. It’s possible they would unload newly signed Otto Porter, but this seems unlikely since they literally just signed him to a $100 million deal. Discounting Porter, there are no great up and coming players on the Wizards.

Maybe Wizards ownership would consider trading Bradley Beal, but he is a huge part of their foundation so this seems unlikely. So all the Wizards could offer would be first found picks, which, similar to the Spurs and Rockets, will most likely be at the lower end for a while.

For LeBron, he gets to play with possibly the best backcourt in the NBA in John Wall and Beal as well as possible future star Otto Porter. Depth would still be a problem on this team as it showed during the playoffs, but this set of starters might not really need a good bench to achieve greatness. Also, he gets to stay in the much less intimidating Eastern Conference.

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Oklahoma City Thunder:

From Cleveland ownership’s perspective, this is probably the worst of the contenders. While they could build a package around defensive anchors Steven Adams or Andre Roberson, they have no tradeable first round picks for a while due to previous trades. The earliest they could trade a first round pick would be 2021 or possibly as late as 2024 depending on protections and the Stepien rule.

From Lebron’s perspective, a team with Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Patrick Peterson, and whichever defensive anchor is not traded, would be a very formidable team, even in the Western Conference. While this is true of any of the Western Conference contenders, more than any others, OKC could have a real shot against the Warriors with this lineup.


Out of all of these teams, depending on which contenders Lebron would waive his no-trade clause for, the Celtics have the most to offer Cleveland ownership, especially if Cleveland truly looks to do a rebuild and wants good future draft picks.

Next: Anthony Davis still high on Celtics wish list

As for Lebron, his best option in terms of players is probably a Western Conference contender. However, when you take in to account the increase in competition in the Western Conference as well as the near guarantee return to the finals in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics become the obvious choice for him as well.