Appearing on The Ringer’s Bill Simmons podcast, ESPN analyst and known Lebron whisperer Brian Windhorst mentioned the Dallas Mavericks as a sneaky candidate for the endgame in Lebron James’ career, due to his affinity for Luka Doncic. This isn’t the first time he’s brought up such a concept; Five months ago on ESPN’s NBA Today, Windhorst hinted at it, saying Lebron would love to play with Luka.
Lebron’s love for Luka hasn’t just been told to us at second hand. He responded to the question of who his favorite young player was on a Twitter Q&A by saying that Luka was his “favorite player”, which implies his favorite overall. He chooses him in every All-Star Draft (although Luka looks like a tee-ball outfielder playing with ants in the game itself). They play the same forward point role. Windhorst noted that Lebron wanted Luka to be a client of Klutch, before joining Jordan. It’s fair to think that if Lebron could bring any player to Los Angeles, it would be our Slovenian superstar.
Now, we shouldn’t get ahead of our skis here. The Mavericks were simply worth mentioning, long after Windhorst said he struggled to see Lebron anywhere other than Los Angeles or Cleveland. Both Simmons and Windhorst agreed that the titles would be the impetus for a move, since Lebron is renowned for his legacy. The Cavs with Lebron is a terrifying super team. They also touched on Lebron’s growing public regard for Steph Curry, and how the Warrior’s payroll weariness and ambition combination makes them viable for any superstar.
There are also many unknowns regarding Lebron’s future. He has expressed a desire to play with his son, Bronny, who is currently ranked 34th by 247sports.com’s composite recruiting rankings for the Class of 2023. The fact that he may not be a prospect at the lottery creates an interesting scenario where teams could recruit the son just to attract the father. This is an unprecedented NBA situation. We’re sure to hear more about all of this as the next offseason rolls around.
If I can dream big for a second, the podcast host and his guest made some interesting points about the complications of Cleveland or Golden State as destinations. They mentioned our hyper-aware era when it comes to rings and inheritance, with super team rings now branded as “fake”. Could Lebron see passing the torch to his stylistic heir, with no other all-stars, as less cheap than joining a current dynasty or creating a new one with four other all-star candidates in Cleveland? Maybe it could be a perfect balance between controversy and storytelling. Lebron has been publicly respectful of Jason Kidd and Jared Dudley since his Lakers days. It’s not hyperbolic to say that Vegas would place us around 5th on a list of odds.
Yet again, just like in other featured destination conversations, the Mavericks seem like an afterthought. I can’t think of anything more unhealthy for Mavs fans than pretending it’s real, or anything more unhealthy for the organization than banking on it. I, for one, can’t handle the trauma of a powder shot built around Lebron James. We know the Maverick’s will be trying to make big moves in the near future, but after Donnie Nelson’s “big fish” era has so often ended in disappointment, I think we’d all like to dream of something more tangible.
For now, classify this as a fun idea, more than a full-fledged rumor.