Lebron James’ exit to the Western Conference's Lakers has made Hollywood hoop fans and LA marketing moguls ecstatic, as James has left the Eastern conference wide open for the first time in almost a decade.
The Klutch Sports Group announced on Sunday evening that four-time NBA MVP, three-time NBA finals MVP, fourteen-time NBA All Star, and two-time Olympic gold medalist LeBron James has agreed to a four-year, $154 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers.
During his stint with Miami and his second run with Cleveland James made eight straight Conference finals and crushed the hopes of some solid Eastern Conference squads along the way. LBJ has been the impenetrable wall that so many Eastern conference hopefuls have failed to leap over. With James out of the way, a new King of the East will emerge this season.
These are my top 3 Eastern Conference candidates to advance to the NBA Championship in 2019.
The Celtics are loaded with talent, draft picks and trade pieces. Even without adding Kawhi Leonard, the Celtics’ blend of young guns and All-stars should steamroll to 60 wins. Jayson Tatum, Terry Rozier, and Jaylen Brown almost beat the Cavs in seven games in the ECF. With both Gordon Hayward andKyrie Irving returning from injury, once Brad Stevens figures out how to maneuver his extreme talent pool, the Green Machine will be a force in the East and the favorites to advance to the NBA Championship.
The Celtics are finalizing a deal that would send Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier III and a future 1st & 2nd round pick to San Antonio in exchange for Kawhi Leonard, League sources tell ESPN.
LeThanos James has been the one roadblock to Eastern Conference supremacy for a Toronto team that has been knocking on the door of a Conference championship. Toronto has already dumped a coach that led them to the best regular season in franchise history in Dwane Casey, almost blaming the coach for LeBron's dominance.
With LeBron gone and the Raptors core stars of DeMar Derozan and Kyle Lowry intact, 55-59 wins and an Eastern Conference title is not out of the question. New coach Nick Nurse has a lot to work with and maybe he can figure out how to get the Raptors over the hump.
Toronto Raptors fans after LeBron left the eastern conference for Los Angeles https://t.co/tgmxQZ9BkX
Riding the success of the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl run, the Sixers were the hot commercial pick to defeat Cleveland and advance to the NBA Championship, but we all found out that the excitement surrounding Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid being the next Penny Hardaway and Shaq combo was a bit premature.
With LeBron out of the picture, #TheProcess still moving in a favorable direction, and Philly's year of playoff experience, this may be the season that Philly begins to make a serious move in the conference. Re-signing JJ Reddick to a one-year deal shows that Philly think they have enough to make a serious run this season, even without signing another big-time hooper.
Free agent guard #JJRedick will return to the Philadelphia 76ers on a 1-year deal in the $12M-to-13M range, league sources tell ESPN. Via @wojespn #NBAFreeAgency #NBA #NBATwitter #76ers #Sixers
If they improve on last year’s success, there’s no reason to eliminate Philly from the list of contenders who could reach the NBA Finals.
Other middle of the road squads such as Miami, Washington, Milwaukee, and Atlanta may also benefit from not having to play King James and Co. 3-4 times a year. As of now, the basketball world is unsure of how free agency will shake out and what teams will be stronger or weaker by the time the season pops off. NBA fans, however, are guaranteed to have a new team reppin' the East in the NBA championship and that will be a welcome change for most basketball fans, regardless of which team takes advantage of it.