This is so dumb. I can’t believe I have to write this, but LeBron James would be open to meeting with the Golden State Warriors in free agency if they could clear max cap space, per ESPN’s Chris Haynes.
This would be the worst possible move for LeBron’s legacy and a massive blow to the NBA’s credibility all at once, and yet the four-time MVP “would listen,” Haynes reported, citing league sources, “out of respect for the Warriors’ winning culture,” led by general manager Bob Myers and coach Steve Kerr.
For their part, the Warriors have shown no interest in pursuing James, according to Haynes, but hey, I guess if one of the greatest players in basketball history wants to join perennial MVP candidates Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant on your team, you probably wouldn’t turn down a meeting, right?
The Warriors have $127 million in salary committed to eight players next season, and they would exceed the projected $101 million salary cap even if Kevin Durant declined his $26.25 million player option. Any attempt to clear max cap space would require completely restructuring a team that already is the heavy favorite to win its third title in four years. Of course, it’s also not impossible.
ESPN’s Kevin Pelton concocted a scenario in which the Warriors send Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a sign-and-trade for James in addition to convincing Durant to take an even bigger paycut and shipping Shaun Livingston to a team with cap space. That would leave Curry, Durant, James and Draymond Green to play with rookies and anyone on the veteran minimum who wants to go along for the ride to an easy championship. Because nobody is beating that team.
If I’m Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, I would rather disembowel myself than facilitate a deal that ships LeBron to Golden State, even if Thompson is the reward, so let’s just say this is the longest of shots.
Maybe there’s a part of LeBron so desperate to catch Michael Jordan’s six rings that he would consider forming a super-superteam to secure what would basically be three guaranteed titles, but nobody would take him seriously at that point. A lot of people already believe he chased the first two in Miami, and joining the Warriors would increase that faction of fans to everyone outside the Bay Area.
And by the time the novelty of seeing a superpower team compete against the NBA dregs wore off after a year, I’m not sure how many people would stick around to watch him storm to his sixth ring.
The only way this isn’t the dumbest storyline in NBA history is if LeBron tells the Warriors he wants to join them, they get Durant to take less money, send Livingston to another team, and then offer the sign-and-trade to Cleveland — only to see James enact his no-trade clause, weakening Golden State in the short-term and destroying their relationship with Thompson and Iguodala moving forward.
Now that I’d like to see. The other part, where James entertains joining the Warriors, I pray this is the last we ever write about it.
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