Will LeBron James leave the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Golden State Warriors and form the most formidable starting five in the history of the sport? This question came into the minds of many after reports surfaced that LeBron is ” not happy” in Cleveland and that the Warriors can set up a sit-down with James if they successfully free up cap space for another max deal.
Of course, these are all a lot of what ifs.
As ESPN pointed out, there is no indication the Warriors are angling to get LeBron to join their super team. The possibility of the Warriors setting up a meeting with LeBron only came up in the mind of ESPN writer Chris Haynes. Up until Haynes pitched the idea, there was nothing coming out of the rumor mill about James wearing a Warriors jersey next season.
What Haynes is trying to say is that if the Warriors clear some cap space for another max contract, it would seem logical to talk to LeBron about the possibility of signing with them. This stems from the idea that James is arguably the best player outside of the Warriors, and any team looking to get better should look at the possibility of getting the best.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 1, 2018
As it stands, the Warriors will need to get creative to open up the necessary space to sign another NBA superstar like LeBron. One scenario, according to Kevin Pelton of ESPN, is to give up Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala in a sign-and-trade for LeBron. This is not as easy as it sounds, though.
For the sign-and-trade to work, someone like Shawn Livingston, who is owed $7.6 million a year for the next three, has to be traded. This off-season’s superstar catch, Kevin Durant, also has to decline his player option and sign for less than what he’s making right now, which is $25 million a year.
Another possibility is to gut the team to clear space for LeBron. This scenario will have Thompson, Iguodala, Livingston, and Draymond Green being traded away.
If everything falls into place, the Warriors could end up with three former MVPs in Stephen Curry, Durant, and James. The problem here is that the Warriors will only be able to offer the minimum for its second unit and reserves. To keep the bench competitive, the Warriors will need to sign veterans who are hoping to win a championship before they retire.
The main reason why James would entertain any pitch from the Warriors is because of due diligence and respect. The Warriors are arguably the best team in the NBA right now, and free-agents often include the top basketball organizations on their list of teams to visit. Also, LeBron has no qualms about joining a super team. Remember, James signed with Miami to form the Big Three with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh before returning to a Cleveland team that already had Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.
Another reason why people think LeBron is supposedly looking to sign elsewhere is that James is “unhappy” in Cleveland, as reported by OnSmash. Jalen Rose explained on NBA Countdown that clues pointing to an “unhappy” LeBron include a cryptic post supposedly calling out someone for being “lazy,” which James thought was “disrespectful.”
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— Jordan Zirm (@clevezirm) January 31, 2018
According to Rose, “passive-aggressive” LeBron is sending out positive tweets about other players but not about his Cleveland teammates. To Rose, this is a clear sign that James is not happy with the Cavaliers.
“At some point when you’re unhappy in a situation, I think that it has a shelf life,” Rose said before reminding the Cavaliers front office to act quickly before things get out of hand and LeBron gets out of Cleveland.
Ken Berger of Bleacher Report talked about how James is not pleased with the relationship developing between Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and guard Isaiah Thomas. According to Berger, Thomas has become the favorite of Gilbert.
By playing favorites, Gilbert is not making things easier for the team, as the locker room chemistry will be affected, leading to poor play on the court. Additionally, a league source says LeBron sees “everybody as a shill for Dan,” which is also bad for chemistry and a good reason why James would want to leave an unhappy situation.