It’s kind of hard to wrap one’s head around the thought of LeBron James joining Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant on the Golden State Warriors next season, creating a three-headed monster the likes of which has not been seen in all of professional sports, much less the NBA. So it’s good that ESPN’s Chris Haynes is raising the prospect now, to give us time to digest just how ludicrous a starting lineup featuring seven of the last nine league MVPs would be.
According to Haynes’s sources, “James would listen if Golden State explored ways to clear the necessary cap space” to acquire him.
I mean, come on.
Of course, “James would listen” is a fair distance from “James is taking his talents to the Bay Area,” and the Warriors would have to perform their fair share of salary-cap gymnastics to make this happen. Haynes, citing ESPN colleague Kevin Helton, says any such move would require a sign-and-trade deal in which the Warriors ship Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala to Cleveland for James, who is expected to decline his $35.6 million player option and become an unrestricted free agent this summer. And then Golden State would need Durant to decline his player option and agree to take less than the $25 million he’s making annually. And then they’d need to trade away Shaun Livingston and his $8.3 million salary. And then hope that a roster consisting of three future Hall of Famers plus a bunch of league-minimum role players can do the trick.
Basically, the Warriors would have to more or less take a stick of dynamite to the bulk of their roster for the chance to land LeBron.
The defensively lacking Cavs, as you may have heard, have been something of a mess over the last month, a situation that grew even more dire when second-leading scorer Kevin Love broke a bone in his hand earlier this week, sidelining him for perhaps two months. So the prospect of a fourth straight Cleveland-Golden State NBA Finals matchup isn’t looking all that great right now, at least for the Ohio half of the equation. James is 33 years old and is playing in his 15th season. If you add in the 217 career playoff games he’s played, it’s more like his 18th season. So it’s safe to say he’s on the back end of a stellar career and would like to have the best possible shot at a title in the time he has left.
There aren’t many NBA teams better-suited for that type of thing than Golden State, but then again the Warriors haven’t had much of a problem winning NBA titles with their current LeBron-free roster. They don’t need to tear everything down and rebuild but, presented with this absurd chance to merge three of the league’s all-time talents, perhaps they should start thinking about it.
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