LeBron James might Trust the Process.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com, James' representatives will meet with the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday, though the superstar himself will not be in the meeting.
"Among the Sixers' planned top selling points to LeBron James' agent Rich Paul today: Philly believes it still has a real chance to win the Kawhi Leonard trade sweepstakes, league sources say," reported the New York Times' Marc Stein.
It's possible, however, that any meetings from here on out are mere formalities, with Nick Wright of FS1 reporting that James has already made his decision and will announce it publicly Tuesday morning.
If James has indeed already made up his mind, it would be safe to assume that Sunday's meeting means one of two things: He's either giving the Sixers a courtesy heads-up that he is going elsewhere—which would allow them to pursue other free agents—or letting them know he intends to sign with them and informing them of his plans for that announcement.
A report from Keith Pompey of Philly.com suggests that the Sixers remain strongly in the running, however:
"Sources have said that this is not an obligatory meeting with James' representatives. The free agent is really interested in playing for the Sixers, according to the source. The forward would welcome playing alongside all-star center Joel Embiid and point guard Ben Simmons, the rookie of the year. He's also impressed with coach Brett Brown and the Sixers' state-of-the-art facility. And by coming to Philly, James believes he would have a great chance to play in his ninth consecutive NBA Finals."
Per Wojnarowski, Sunday's meeting is "the first significant chance for the 76ers to make a free-agent case to James," with "ownership and possibly interim president of basketball operations/coach Brett Brown" leading the meeting with James' agent, Rich Paul.
Per that report, James and Paul also called Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman early Sunday morning. It is believed the Cavaliers, Sixers and Los Angeles Lakers are the three teams in contention to sign James this offseason, though the Denver Nuggets are reportedly trying to get a meeting with James as well, according to Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports.
Of the three likely destinations for James, the Sixers may offer him the best opportunity to win in both the short- and long-term. The Sixers have two young superstars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and are fresh off a 52-win season. They appear to be one of the two teams best equipped to take over Cleveland's throne in the Eastern Conference, alongside the Boston Celtics.
There are questions about James' fit in Philadelphia from a basketball standpoint, however. Both Simmons and James are at their best as primary facilitators, for one.
For another, James has traditionally been best with multiple shooters surrounding him, even relegating Chris Bosh to a more perimeter-centric role during his time with the Miami Heat. While Embiid is capable of hitting shots from deep, he has a dynamic post game and was often the Sixers' contingency plan late in the shot clock down on the block.
Were James to sign with Philadelphia, concessions would have to be made. Perhaps James would be OK spending more time off the ball. Perhaps the combinations of James and Embiid, or even James and Simmons in the pick-and-roll—Simmons as the rim-runner in those setups would be fun to watch—would mitigate some of the other fit concerns.
And maybe Embiid—the team's defensive cornerstone—would be fine with a role that included a decrease in usage in the post. It's hard to imagine the trio wouldn't find a way to make it work. But it certainly wouldn't be a seamless adjustment, at least not initially, which may ultimately play a factor in James' decision.