How Close Was LeBron to Join the Sixers?

LeBron speaks to the media after being defeated by the Golden State Warriors during Game Four of the 2018 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 8 in Cleveland, Ohio. The game proved to be James's final appearance for the Cavs as he signed a four-year deal with the Lakers this month. Jason Miller/Getty Images

LeBron James might have signed with the Los Angeles Lakers on the first day of free agency, but earlier this summer the three-time NBA champion had strongly considered moving to Philadelphia instead.

On July 1, LeBron's representatives Klutch Sports confirmed the four-time MVP had chosen to leave Cleveland for a second time and move to Los Angeles after opting out of the final year of his deal with the Cavaliers.

While in the past LeBron had allowed speculation over his future to linger on before revealing his plans, this time the fuss was kept to a minimum and the biggest signing of the summer was completed shortly after free agency had officially begun.

Prior to signing with the Lakers, the 33-year-old's camp met with the Sixers' managing partner Josh Harris and coach and interim GM Brett Brown. While LeBron did not personally meet Philadelphia, Harris believes the 14-time All-Star closely considered joining Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid in Pennsylvania next season.

"I think they considered us very strongly," Harris said of James's representatives while talking to reporters on Monday at the Las Vegas Summer League, as reported by ESPN.

"I think he—I would be speculating on how he makes his decisions, and I don't want to do that—but I think that they were really serious [about Philadelphia]. The fact that they took the meeting with us was something that they didn't view lightly, so I think that they were very serious about it."

In Embiid, Simmons, Dario Saric and Markelle Fultz the Sixers have arguably the most exciting core of young players in the league, but that wasn't enough to convince LeBron.

The Akron native will instead team up alongside another promising group of players, including Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart.

LeBron's deal with the Lakers was made official on Monday, when he penned a four-year deal worth $153.3 million with the NBA's second-most successful franchise.

Klutch Sports tweeted a picture of LeBron signing the deal alongside his agent, Rich Paul, and Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka.

Officially signed with the @Lakers @KingJames

— Klutch Sports Group (@KlutchSports) July 10, 2018

The Lakers confirmed the move shortly afterward, by posting a picture of LeBron in a Lakers uniform on Twitter, with the caption "The King has arrived."

The King has arrived 👑#LakeShow + @KingJames


— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) July 10, 2018

Magic Johnson, the Lakers' president of basketball operations, described LeBron as the "best player in the world" as he welcomed the former Cleveland star to California.

"He loves to compete and is an awesome leader who is about winning and making sure that his teammates are successful," Magic said in a statement.

"The Lakers players are excited to have a teammate who has been to nine NBA Finals. It's a huge step closer to returning the Lakers to the playoffs and to the NBA Finals."

After missing the playoffs only twice between 1976 and 2013, the Lakers have not made an appearance in the postseason since but LeBron's arrival in L.A. has seen bookmakers install them as fourth-favorite to win the title next season.

According to OddShark, the Lakers are 13/2 to clinch the ring next season, while the Celtics and the Rockets are 11/2 and 6/1 respectively. Meanwhile, the Golden State Warriors, champions in three of the last four seasons, are 57/100 to retain their crown next season.

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