LeBron to PDX?
Jon Acuff is a New York Times best-selling author and apparent NBA fan. The writer of books took to Twitter early Wednesday morning to let the world know where he hopes to see LeBron James play next season. His number one choice - The Portland Trail Blazers.
Now, it should be noted that:
A) Acuff lists only teams in the Western Conference
B) Acuff is a Celtics fan, and really wants LeBron out of the East
C) He omits the Warriors because screw those guys.
Of course, this wish list is all tongue in cheek, but let's dive in anyway. How realistic is it that the Blazers could land King James?
The King has a new throne
LeBron is probably the best player to ever play the game (sorry Jordan Stans), and many teams will be lining up for his services should he decline his player-option this off-season. Thus far, James has been linked to the 76ers, Rockets, Lakers, and of course the Cavaliers. However, there is always a wild card in these free agent situations, and as you know, Damian Lillard needs a third option.
Here are some scenarios in which the Blazers could land LeBron James…
Make the moves to free up cap space
The most obvious scenario would be for the Blazers to start wheeling and dealing to free up the cap space needed to sign James on the open market. If LeBron were to pick up his player option, he would make $35.6mil with Cleveland; so let’s just say that is his cap number for now. In order to free up $35.6mil the Blazers would have to unload some big contracts. Harkless ($10.8mil), Turner ($17.8mil), and Leonard ($10.6mil) combine to make $39.2, so that is where we start. Trading these big contracts would have to happen to free up space. It’s difficult but doable.
Could you imagine a Lillard – McCollum – James – Aminu – Nurkic starting five?
The rare sign and trade
The next option would be to land LeBron via sign and trade. Sign and trades are rare in today’s NBA, but the Blazers might have the talent Cleveland would want in return to pull it off. The last thing the Cavaliers want is for James to walk away and leave them empty-handed. In this scenario, the Blazers would have to send a key piece of their roster to the Cavs. Enter CJ McCollum. Portland's star shooting guard is on the books for $25.8mil next year. If you send McCollum and Harkless ($10.8mil) you would not only be in the ballpark with contracts matching, you would give Cleveland an elite player to help ease the pain of losing LeBron. Plus McCollum is an Ohio native. Everyone wins!
LeBron wants rings, signs MLE
The least likely, when hell freezes over, this will never happen in a million years scenario is that LeBron signs on the cheap. James wants rings, nothing else, and sees value in playing with Lillard and McCollum. He takes the giant financial hit and signs with the Mid-Level Exception, which is about $8.4mil for teams below the Apron, and $5.2 for teams above the Apron.
LeBron says, “Hey, the contract may be worth about $30mil less than I could be making... but me, Dame, and CJ will win not one, not two, not three…”
Plus the Moda Center is just a short drive away from the Nike campus, and James will more than make that money up via endorsements. So, come on LeBron, the ball is in your court. Come win some rings for The (Port)Land.