Philadelphia 76ers could benefit from LeBron James joining Western Conference

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Even if the Philadelphia 76ers failed to land LeBron James this offseason, the team would still be in great shape.

The rumors surrounding LeBron James possibly joining the Philadelphia 76ers gathered steam during the second half of this past NBA season, leaving some fans overly invested in acquiring the four-time NBA MVP.

But what if not signing LeBron is almost as good for the Sixers? Hear me out.

Sure, having The Decision 2.0 go Philly’s way is the ultimate goal. It immediately turns the Sixers into the odds-on favorite to challenge the Golden State Warriors for the championship. Not to mention, it would make Philadelphia a heavy contender for years to come.

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Oddsmakers seem to think there are more likely ways this story ends, but let’s say for a second that James doesn’t come to Philly. How could that prove beneficial to the Sixers?

To answer that, you need to examine the most likely landing spots for the three-time NBA champion.

The Los Angeles Lakers seem to have taken over pole position, at least in the eyes of the media. James owns a couple of homes there, the team can bring on other big names, and, well, Los Angeles. All things considered, James to the Lakers seems to make a lot of sense.

The other team most frequently mentioned is the Houston Rockets, a team that would need to do some

The other teams often mentioned, excluding the Sixers, all face steep challenges in luring LeBron.

The Celtics are on the outside looking in, it seems, as league sources told The Boston Globe that such a move was “unlikely.”

The Warriors have been tossed around, but do you really think James wants to end his legacy with a dose of the Kevin Durant treatment from fans?

Then, of course, there’s the possibility of staying in Cleveland, a move that would require the Cavs brass to show they’re willing to give James the supporting cast he needs. When have they ever done that? Fool me once, you know?

So, that leaves three possibilities: the Lakers, the Warriors or the Sixers. Why is this good for Philly? Because two of those teams are in the West—and the Sixers are in the Eastern Conference.

James going west is a huge boon for Philadelphia. Not only are you removing the league’s best player from your conference, but you’re basically guaranteeing one of the league’s other best players follows. The accumulation of power in the Western Conference would be astounding.

But you know what? Let the conference eat itself alive.

The Sixers would only need to go through one of those teams to win a championship. Not only that, but also they only see each Western Conference teams twice during the regular season, which is another win for Philadelphia.

Also, while all this is going on, the Sixers will still make major moves this offseason, whether that takes the form of moving up in the draft, signing a few in-demand free agents, or trading for a big piece of The Process puzzle.

With so much star power out west, don’t you think some really nice players will see the advantages of joining the Sixers in the opposite conference? James bolting the conference only makes the Sixers more dangerous to deal with.

Yes, you still need to beat the Boston Celtics, but at least James joining the Western Conference would most likely result in the Cavaliers being one less team to worry about.

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With that second hurdle possibly being out of the way, Philly is uniquely positioned to have a better chance of handling Boston, as the road to a championship will get easier. Of course, James coming to Philly would make that road easier, but at least it’s nice to know the Sixers could still benefit from him signing elsewhere.