#PhillyWantsLeBron: Billboards outside Cleveland urge LeBron James to join 76ers

LeBron James can opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent this summer. (You might have already been aware of this. It’s kind of a big deal.) As such, an awful lot of digital ink has been and will be spilled on the topic of where LeBron might play should he decide to stop playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers; this sort of thing tends to happen when the best player on the planet nears the open market.

One potential destination that has picked up steam as a possible landing spot: the City of Brotherly Love.

After four years wandering the desert, the Philadelphia 76ers are on the path back toward the promised land, entering Monday’s play ranked seventh in the East. They’re led by a pair of remarkable young talents: All-Star center Joel Embiid and Rookie of the Year favorite Ben Simmons, a 6-foot-10 supersized point guard whose frame and game have long drawn comparisons to James. LeBron’s on the record as a big fan of both guys — who have, naturally, already tested the waters of trying to recruithim — and as he enters his mid-30s, he might like the idea of linking up with a pair of ascendant stars who have still yet to hit their mid-20s and appear poised to stake their claim to Eastern supremacy in the years to come.

RELATED: LeBron James through the years

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LeBron James through the years
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LeBron James through the years
File photo of high school basketball star LeBron James getting set for a foul shot during the annual Jordan Capital Classic high school all-star game in Washington, April 17, 2003. James will hold a press conference at his high shool in Akron, Ohio April 25, 2003, where he is expected to state his intentions concerning the upcoming NBA draft. James is expected to be the number one pick should he make himself available for the draft. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn-Files GMH/HB
Lebron James announces his entrance into the NBA draft, during a press conference at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio, April 25, 2003. The six-foot-eight James, 18, is expected by many to be the number one selection in the draft on June 26. REUTERS/Jason Cohn JC/HB
LeBron James (R) shakes hands with National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern after being selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers as the first pick in the 2003 NBA Draft at Madison Square Garden in New York, June 26, 2003. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton PM
Cleveland Cavaliers first draft pick LeBron James speaks with reporters following a picture session at Gund Arena, in Cleveland, October 2, 2003. REUTERS/Ron Kuntz RK/ME
Cleveland Cavalier rookie forward LeBron James (23) shoots over New Orleans Hornets defenders Baron Davis (1) and David Wesley (4), in the fourth period of NBA action in Cleveland, Ohio, December 23, 2003. James 22 points was the high scorer for the Cavaliers who defeated the Hornets 97-86. REUTERS/Marc Serota MS
Paul Pierce (R) of the Boston Celtics and LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers chat while the scoreboard is fixed during the fourth quarter of their game at Gund Arena, February 9, 2004. The Cavaliers won, 97-89. REUTERS/Ron Kuntz RK
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (C) gets a layup as Seattle Supersonics forward Rashad Lewis (L) and Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki look on, during the first half of the 54th NBA All-Star Game in Denver, February 20, 2005. REUTERS/John Gress JM
Eastern Conference forward LeBron James holds the Most Valuable Player trophy at the 55th NBA All-Star Game in Houston, Texas February 19, 2006. The East defeated the Western Conference 122-120. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James questions a call during their NBA playoff game against the Washington Wizards in Washington May 5, 2006 Cleveland defeated Washington, 114-113, to advance in the NBA playoffs. REUTERS/Gary Cameron
Forward LeBron James, of the Cleveland Cavaliers, works on his jump shot at morning practice during the first day of training camp for the USA men's basketball team in Las Vegas July 19, 2006. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES)
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) shoots over New York Knicks forward Quentin Richardson (L) and guard Stephon Marbury (R) in the fourth quarter of their NBA basketball game in New York's Madison Square Garden, November 13, 2006. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (UNITED STATES)
Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James is seen on the court during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles, California, February 15, 2007. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (UNITED STATES)
Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James goes through his pregame powder ritual prior to the start of Game 2 of their Eastern Conference first round NBA playoff basketball game in Cleveland, Ohio April 25, 2007. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES)
Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James answers media questions before practice for their NBA Finals basketball series against the San Antonio Spurs in San Antonio, Texas, June 8, 2007. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES)
Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James (L) celebrates after dunking against the New Orleans Hornets David West during the NBA All-Star basketball game in New Orleans, Louisiana February 17, 2008. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (UNITED STATES)
Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James (L) is guarded by Chicago Bulls Thabo Sefolosha (R) during the first quarter of their NBA basketball game in Cleveland, April 3, 2008. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES)
Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James drives to the basket during the third quarter of their NBA basketball game in Cleveland January 9, 2009. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES)
Cleveland Cavaliers Lebron James sits with his girlfriend Savana Brinson and son Bryce Maximus during the Rookie Challenge at the NBA All-Star basketball weekend in Phoenix, Arizona, February 13, 2009. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES)
Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James speaks after being named the NBA Most Valuable Player during a ceremony at his alma mater St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio May 4, 2009. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES SPORT BASKETBALL)
Miami Heat's LeBron James celebrates after Mario Chalmers scored a three pointer against the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, December 25, 2010. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Miami Heat's LeBron James (R) stands with Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade during Game 5 of the NBA Finals basketball series in Dallas, June 9, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Miami Heat's LeBron James watches a shot against the Dallas Mavericks through the net during the second half in Game 2 of the NBA Finals basketball series in Miami, June 2, 2011. REUTERS/David J. Phillip/Pool (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Miami Heat's LeBron James dunks against the Washington Wizards in the first half of their NBA basketball game in Miami, Florida December 15, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Innerarity (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Miami Heat's LeBron James speaks at a press conference after his team defeated the San Antonio Spurs in Game 7 of their NBA Finals basketball playoff in Miami, Florida June 20, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Dec 19, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) makes a pass against the Brooklyn Nets during the second quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James wears an " I Can't Breathe" t-shirt during warm ups prior to the game against the Brooklyn Nets in Brooklyn, New York, December 8, 2014. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo
June 14, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James speaks to media following the 104-91 loss against the Golden State Warriors in game five of the NBA Finals. at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 19, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) celebrates with the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy after beating the Golden State Warriors in game seven of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 21: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers pauses on the court during the second half against the San Antonio Spurs at Quicken Loans Arena on January 21, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Spurs defeated the Cavaliers 118-115. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Whether James digs that vision remains unclear. But clearly, someone else does:

These three billboards went up outside Cleveland on Monday. One features a diagram of a basketball court with five numbers spread around it — 33, 21, 9, 25 and 23. Embiid wears No. 21 for the Sixers. Simmons wears 25. Do-everything forwards Dario Saric and Robert Covington wear Nos. 9 and 33, respectively. You can guess who’s represented by the 23 that’s topped by a jaunty crown.

The other two bear simple, clear phrases: “COMPLETE THE PROCESS” and “#PHILLYWANTSLEBRON.”

So who’s behind the large, unmistakable signs plastered along I-480? A Pennsylvania-based home remodeling company, according to Darren Rovell of ESPN.com:

The billboards, which will be up for three months, were put there by Power Home Remodeling, a company based in Chester, Pennsylvania.

“We’re passionate about Philadelphia,” said Asher Raphael, the company’s co-CEO. “We have an amazing city, it’s the best sports town and it’s an awesome place to live. We think the best athletes should want to play here.” […]

“LeBron is in the conversation of being the best player of all time,” Raphael said. “We think if he comes to Philly, he gets a couple more championships.”

Unlike some other floated destinations, the Sixers wouldn’t have to engage in Olympic-level balance-sheet gymnastics to be able to afford to pay LeBron a full-freight maximum-salaried contract. Philly doesn’t have quite as much financial flexibility as they did at the start of the season, after agreeing to multi-year extensions with Embiid and Covington. But with a projected $70.6 million in salary on the books for next year after shedding the expiring deals of J.J. Redick (who you’d imagine they’d love to bring back on a cheaper contract as a floor spacer), Amir Johnson and Trevor Booker, and a projected salary cap line of $101 million for the 2018-19 season, the Sixers could get into the neighborhood of LeBron’s $35.3 million Year 1 max this summer by renouncing rights to all their free agents and offloading the $8.6 million owed to guard Jerryd Bayless in the final year of his deal.

Getting off that money might not be easy in a league all but devoid of significant cap space. But general manager Bryan Colangelo does have plenty of assets at his disposal — all of the 76ers’ own draft picks moving forward, an additional first-rounder from either the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018 or the Sacramento Kings in 2019, as many as seven extra second-round picks between the 2018 and 2021 drafts, young wings Furkan Korkmaz and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot — to potentially sweeten any deal.

RELATED: LeBron James and Dwyane Wade's relationship through the years

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LeBron James and Dwyane Wade's relationship through the years
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LeBron James and Dwyane Wade's relationship through the years
Team USA forward LeBron James (L), of the Cleveland Cavaliers, is checked by guard Dwyane Wade, of the Miami Heat, during morning practice on the second day of training camp of the USA Men's Basketball team in Las Vegas, Nevada July 20, 2006. The U.S. team is preparing for the 2006 World Basketball Championships this August in Japan. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES)
U.S. Player (L-R) LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthoy pose after a news conference in Seoul for the World Basketball Challenge 2006, an exhibition match ahead of the world championships in Japan, August 12, 2006. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon (SOUTH KOREA)
Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (rear) and Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade greet each other before their NBA basketball game in Miami, Florida February 1, 2007. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES)
Lebron James (R) and Dwyane Wade of the U.S. celebrate after defeating Spain in the men's gold medal basketball game at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 24, 2008. REUTERS/Sergio Perez (CHINA)
LeBron James (L) and Dwyane Wade laugh during NBA basketball team Miami Heat's 'HEAT Summer of 2010 Welcome Event' at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida July 9, 2010. REUTERS/Hans Deryk (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Dwyane Wade (L) and LeBron James share a laugh after a preseason workout of the Miami Heat NBA basketball team at Hurlburt Field Air Force Base near Fort Walton Beach, Florida September 29, 2010. REUTERS/Joe Skipper (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Miami Heat's LeBron James (L) congratulates teammate Dwyane Wade during the second period against the Washington Wizards in NBA basketball action in Miami, Florida February 25, 2011. REUTERS/Hans Deryk (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Miami Heat's forwards Chris Bosh (L) and LeBron James and guard Dwyane Wade (R) cover their mouths with their towels as they talk to each other on the bench during the final minutes of their NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons in Auburn Hills, Michigan February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL IMAGES OF THE DAY)
NBA basketball players LeBron James (L) and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat sit in the stands as they watch the tennis match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and Kei Nishikori of Japan at the Sony Ericsson Open tennis tournament in Key Biscayne, Florida March 26, 2011. REUTERS/Hans Deryk (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT TENNIS BASKETBALL)
Miami Heat's LeBron James (L) and Dwyane Wade wait during a timeout against the Philadelphia 76ers during fourth quarter of Game 5 of their NBA Eastern Conference basketball playoff series in Miami April 27, 2011. REUTERS/Hans Deryk (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Miami Heat forward LeBron James sticks his tongue out towards teammate Dwyane Wade during the second half against the Boston Celtics in Game 4 of their NBA Eastern Conference playoff series in Boston, Massachusetts May 9, 2011. REUTERS/Adam Hunger (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Miami Heat's LeBron James (R) is congratulated by teammate Dwyane Wade after they defeated the Chicago Bulls in Game 2 of their NBA Eastern Conference Finals playoff basketball game in Chicago, May 18, 2011. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Miami Heat's LeBron James (R) congratulates teammate Dwyane Wade after wade scored a three-point basket against the Dallas Mavericks during the fourth quarter in Game 2 of the NBA Finals basketball series in Miami, June 2, 2011. REUTERS/Hans Deryk (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Miami Heat's LeBron James (R) stands with Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade during Game 5 of the NBA Finals basketball series in Dallas, June 9, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Miami Heat forward LeBron James (L) and guard Dwyane Wade speak during a time out during Game 1 of their first round NBA Eastern Conference basketball playoff against New York Knicks in Miami, Florida April 28, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Innerarity (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Miami Heat's LeBron James (L) and Dwyane Wade share a laugh during a team practice for the NBA basketball finals in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, June 13, 2012. The Heat will play Game 2 of the series against the Oklahoma Thunder on June 14. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Miami Heat's LeBron James (L) hugs teammate Dwyane Wade near the end of Game 5 of the NBA basketball finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Miami, Florida, June 21, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade (L) and LeBron James celebrate after their team won the championship following Game 5 of the NBA basketball finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Miami, Florida, June 21, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Miami Heat's LeBron James (R) hugs teammate Dwyane Wade during Game 7 of their NBA Eastern Conference final basketball playoff against the Indiana Pacers in Miami, Florida June 3, 2013. REUTERS/Joe Skipper (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Miami Heat's LeBron James (R) and Dwyane Wade pause during a break in play against the San Antonio Spurs during the fourth quarter in Game 7 of their NBA Finals basketball playoff in Miami, Florida June 20, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade embraces the Larry O'Brian Championship trophy as teammate LeBron James (L) holds the Bill Russell Trophy for MVP after their team defeated the San Antonio Spurs in Game 7 of their NBA Finals basketball playoff in Miami, Florida June 20, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Feb 1, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) high fives Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade (3) during the fourth quarter of a game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. The Heat defeated the Knicks 106-91. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 15, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) and guard Dwyane Wade (3) speak during a press conference after game five of the 2014 NBA Finals at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 25, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) hugs Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) after their game at American Airlines Arena. The Heat won 101-91. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 16, 2015; Miami, FL, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) offers to help Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) as he sits in the front row during the third quarter at American Airlines Arena. Miami Heat defeated against the Cleveland Cavaliers 106-92. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 2, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade (3) and Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) meet at half court prior to the first quarter at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 2, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) drives past Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade (3) during the second half at the United Center. Chicago won 111-105. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: NBA player LeBron James (L) accepts the Best Male Athlete award from NBA player Dwyane Wade onstage during the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 10: Dwyane Wade #9 of the Cleveland Cavaliers talks with LeBron James #23 while playing the Chicago Bulls during a pre season game at Quicken Loans Arena on October 10, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 08: Dwyane Wade #9 and LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers share a laugh during a stop in play against the Washington Wizards in the first half during a preseason game at Capital One Arena on October 8, 2017 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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Another potential cap-clearing scenario, albeit a pretty bummerific one: shipping out 2017 No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz, owed $8.4 million next season in the second year of his rookie contract. I hate even thinking about that; I’d love to see Fultz get a chance to get right in Philly after what’s been an insane rookie season. But importing LeBron presents organizations with difficult decisions with repercussions that can sometimes be felt by otherwise blameless players — just ask AndrewWiggins — and if Fultz is the cost of doing a bit of business that lets Philly run out a LeBron-Embiid-Simmons core for the next several years, it’s a price Colangelo would have to think very, very seriously about paying.

Maybe that prospect, enticing as it might seem from the outside, isn’t quite enough for James, who’ll surely be looking at which situation best enables him to contend for championships immediately rather than in a couple of years when his running buddies reach their peaks. Maybe the Sixers wouldn’t view it as an ideal fit, preferring to continue to grow organically by letting Simmons remain in control as the team’s top ball-handler while fostering Embiid’s emergence into one of the league’s most dominant players and giving the rest of their young nucleus a chance to develop for a competitive push a few years down the line. Maybe LeBron decides he doesn’t actually want to leave Cleveland, or we find out that his mind’s been made up about a trip to L.A. for years now, and this Philly prospect is just a drawing-dead pipe dream.

Who knows? A lot can change between now and July 1, and LeBron has made it clear that he’s not at all interested in entertaining a dialogue steeped in hypotheticals that he insists he hasn’t yet considered.

“The story needs to be, ‘LeBron is focused on getting his team back to the Finals,’” he said earlier this month. “That’s what the story should be, because I’m telling you guys right now — not, ‘Oh, I’m angry about the Golden State story, or I’m angry about the Lakers and Philly and Houston and San Antonio and Sacramento and Orlando and Miami and Toronto.’ I can name all 30 teams. Like, that’s not the story. The story, for me, personally — my focus right now, and I’m driven right now, to figure out how we can [play] the right basketball, every single night, to get back to the Finals for a fourth straight year.”

It is entirely reasonable that that is LeBron’s focus. For plenty of other people, though, the focus will remain on what happens this summer, and on the journey along the way. For the next three months, anyway, the path to what’s next will feature three gigantic suggestions that LeBron head east to Philly. Such suggestionsaren’talwayssuccessful, but at least they give us — and maybe their intended targets — something to think about along the way.

Dan Devine is a writer and editor for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@oath.com or follow him on Twitter!

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