PICTURE LEBRON JAMES WITH THE LOS ANGELES LAKERS

Few NBA observers expect LeBron James to finish his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

One theory is that leading a third franchise to a league championship would boost LeBron’s case for All-Time Best NBA Player.

There is speculation that James could be headed for the Los Angeles Lakers – and sooner than later.

LeBron probably recognizes that he is unlikely to win another NBA title in Cleveland.

Imagine LeBron joining rookie whiz Lonzo Bell on the Lakers. Showtime would be back in style.

That would be good for LeBron and good for the NBA in general.

Lousy Lakers are like lousy Yankees. Bad for their entire leagues.

Could the Lakers win a title with LeBron? I believe so.

With Lonzo Ball at point guard, LeBron could concentrate on scoring and playing defense. There would be less wear and tear on his body and his playing career might be extended by a few seasons.

Believe it or not, the rest of the Lakers roster looks pretty good:

Centers – Brook Lopez (underrated; likely to star after being liberated from the Brooklyn Nets), Ivica Zubac, Thomas Bryant

Power forward – Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr.

Small forward – Brandon Ingram, Luol Dang, Corey Brewer

Shooting guard – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (underrated former Detroit Piston), Josh Hart

Point guard – Lonzo Ball, Jordan Clarkson, Tyler Ennis.

Would the Lakers with LeBron James be better than the Golden State Warriors?  Not yet. But the Lakers could be on the verge of being a championship contender. I think LeBron James knows that.

ANOTHER NO. 27 RATING FOR BILLS...SUGGESTED NAME CHANGE FOR THE JETS

Nate Davis of USA TODAY Sports on Thursday ranked current NFL rosters from 1 to 32. Not surprisingly, the Buffalo Bills are No. 27. I think that is a few spots too low but it is consistent with several other such postings.

Davis posted, “They’re (the Bills) in the midst of organizational and schematic overhauls and also watched their depth at the offensive skill positions raided in free agency along with No. 1 CB Stephon Gilmore.”

The rankings: Atlanta edged New England for No. 1, followed by (in order) Pittsburgh, Seattle, Tennessee, Oakland, Dallas, Los Angeles Chargers, Green Bay, Carolina, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Arizona, Jacksonville, New Orleans, New York Giants, Miami, Minnesota, Los Angeles Rams, Tampa Bay, t21 Houston (surprisingly low) and Washington, t23 Baltimore and Denver (surprisingly low), Detroit, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Chicago, Indianapolis, Cleveland, New York Jets, San Francisco.

I’m surprised that the Jets aren’t No. 32.  The front office apparently has to work harder for that No. 1 overall 2018 draft pick. I believe – for a short time – that the New York Jets should be renamed the New York Tanks.

McGREGOR TALKING A GOOD GAME...ODDS SLASHED VS. MAYWEATHER

Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor traded insults during a recent tour to boost interest in their ballyhooed boxing match August 26 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

McGregor is a master salesman and he apparently won the war or words.

While I’m pretty sure there is genuine bad blood between Mayweather and McGregor, I also believe much of their protestations are orchestrated designed to stimulate pay-per-per sales.

I think the biggest insult of all is the $99.95 pay-per-view price.

The odds on the fight have changed significantly in recent weeks.

Before the fight became a reality, Mayweather was projected as a huge favorite. For example, one oddsmaker had Mayweather minus-2,000 (bet $2,000 to win $100).

The latest BOVADA odds: Mayweather -500 (bet $500 to win $100)...McGregor +350 (bet $100 to win $350).

A few reasons a growing number of people are giving McGregor a big chance: He is generally recognized for having the “best hands in the history of MMA”...McGregor is 40 years old and hasn’t fought since September 2015 (a lopsided decision over Andre Berto).

HUGE WIN FOR THE RATTLERS

The Denver Outlaws came to Rochester with a Major League Lacrosse-best 8-2 record and left with a 18-12 loss to the Rochester Rattlers Thursday night at Capelli Sport Stadium.

The Rattlers, desperately in need of a victory in pursuit of a playoff berth, pulled off the impressive victory minus leading goal scorers Jordan Wolf and Jeremy Boltus, who were unavailable due to job commitments.

Rochester’s roster depth paid off as reserves Conor Gately and Ryan McNamara combined for four goals. Veteran stalwarts Jordan MacIntosh and John Ranagan each had four goals. John Galloway had 16 saves and Drew Simoneau won 18 of 34 faceoffs.

The Rattlers improved to 6-6 with two games remaining in the regular season: at the Atlanta Blaze July 29 and home against the Ohio Machine Saturday, August 5.

Denver (8-3) and Ohio (7-4) are in good shape in the battle for two of the four playoff spots. Boston (3-8) is out of contention. That leaves five teams fighting for two playoff berths: Rattlers (6-6), New York Lizards (6-6), Florida Launch (6-6), Chesapeake Bayhawks (5-6), Charlotte Hounds (5-6) and Atlanta Blaze (5-6).

KUDOS TO TWO SPECIAL RED WINGS

The Rochester Red Wings are playing solid baseball and their recent success has been a team effort.

Here are some props to two of the key Wings:

Mitch Garver – In 68 games, he is batting .282 (68-for-241) with 20 doubles, 1 triple, 13 HRs, 37 RBI, .386 on-base percentage (third in the IL), .529 slugging percentage (4th in the IL) and .915 OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage). He is a solid catcher with a strong arm. His reward will be a promotion to Minnesota in September if not sooner.

Aaron Slegers – The bullpen has been the biggest reason for the team’s success, but Slegers has emerged as the rock of the starting rotation: 10-4 record (tied for the most wins in the IL with two others), 3.50 ERA (8th among qualifiers), 103 innings, 112 hits allowed, 24 walks, 77 strikeouts, 1.32 WHIP.

SHORT SHOTS

The Minnesota Twins reportedly are close to a trade for Atlanta Braves veteran left-handed pitcher Jaime Garcia for a “minor-leaguer.” Jere’s hoping it isn’t Mitch Garver (though it would be a good move for the Braves and Garver).

.Betting website bookmaker.eu lists Buffalo’s Zay Jones as the -140 favorite (bet $140 to win $100) to lead NFL rookies in receiving yards. Why? He’ll get plenty of targets as the projected No. 2 receiver. But it is an unexpected credit to QB Tyrod Taylor, too.

O.J. Simpson as a free man figures to rake in lots of money from TV appearances and his lawyers will do their best to make sure the Brown and Goldman families receive as little as possible.

If Andy Serkis wins the Oscar for Best Male Actor for his role as Caesar in War for the Planet of the Apes, wouldn’t it be fun if he accepted the award in his ape suit?

American Hockey League players will be eligible to play in the 2018 Winter Olympics. Here’s hoping the Amerks have a player good enough to make it.

The WNBA New York Liberty drew 17,443 Camp Day fans Wednesday (game start 11 a.m.) for a 96-80 victory over the Connecticut Sun. The kids must have a much better time than NBA fans usually have at Knicks home games.

The Rochester Red Wings have been involved in 124 roster moves this season, matching last season’s total. It seems like Kennys Vargas has been in about 20 of them. Give him credit for an honest effort despite the Minnesota-Rochester shuttle.

Tim Tebow update with the St. Lucie Mets (Advanced-A Florida State League): 23 games; .320 batting average (24-for-75); 9 runs; 4 doubles; 1 triple; 3 HRs; 14 RBI’ 9 walks; 14 strikeouts. He’s 7-for-15 in his last four games.

Third baseman Pablo Sandoval’s three seasons with Boston wound up being the equivalent of one full season: 162 games; .237 batting average (136-for-575); 27 doubles; 1 triple; 14 HRs; 59 RBI; 34 walks; 101 strikeouts.

How’s this for a baseball trade rumor: Baltimore left-handed relief ace Zach Britton to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Say it ain’t so. I think the Dodgers are plenty good enough already.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...

Friday. July 21 –Seantrel Henderson (25)...Whitney Mercilus (27)...DeAndre Jordan (29)... CC Sabathia (37)...Tamika Catchings (38)...David Carr (38)...Paul Casey (40)...Geoff Jenkins (43)...Brandi Chastain (49)...Mike Bordick (52)...Henry Ellard (56)...Phil Russell (65)...Doug Collins (66)...Slick Watts (66)...Al Hrabosky (68)...Bill Flett (74). Cat Stevens (69) is invited to the birthday party.

Saturday, July 22 – Ezekiel Elliott (22)...Sean Lee (31)...Steven Jackson (34)...Mike Sweeney (44)...Keyshawn Johnson (45)...Tim Brown (51)...Shawn Michaels (52)....Rafael Addison (53)...Dave Stieb (60)...Scott Sanderson (61)...Michael Spinks (61)...Lasse Viren (68)...Cliff Johnson (70)...Sparky Lyle (73)...Gerry Desjardins (73)...Ron Turcotte (76). Selena Gomez (25). Willem Dafoe (62), Danny Glover (71), Alex Trebek (77) and Louise Fletcher (83) are invited to the birthday party.

Sunday, July 23 – Gerald Wallace (35)...Nomar Garciaparra (44)...Boo Weekley (44)...Dmitri Khristich (48)...Gary Payton (49)...Antoine Carr (56)...Walt Garrison (73). Monica Lewinsky (44) and Woody Harrelson (56) are invited to the birthday party. Philip Seymour Hoffman was born on this date 50 years ago (1967) and died in 2014.