In the era of #fakenews, it’s no surprise a Stephen A. Smith rumor would take the cake.
On a program called First Take on ESPN, Smith, a former columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, believed LeBron James would talk to several teams — including the Sixers — this summer if/when he hits free agency.
But that’s not the weird thing.
"LeBron James is going to have a conversation with the Cleveland Cavaliers. They can offer him the most, and they are willing to do anything they can to keep him here, etc. etc., and obviously the wife is going to have a major, major say in things. So you got that going on. He's going to have a conversation with Boston. He's going to have a conversation with Philly. Obviously the Lakers. Houston's in the mix as well. They are going to go after him. Make no mistake about it."
Hold up, wait a minute!
The Celtics?! Like, the Boston Celtics?! The team that is paying Al Horford, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward a combined $76-million-plus in 2018-19?! Tack onto that the restricted free agency of Marcus Smart — who carries a $13.6-million qualifying offer. Sure, James may take a slight pay cut for a chance to form his own “super team,” but he’s not taking the veteran minimum.
According to Spotrac, the Celtics are $15,982,693 over the cap — even if they renounce Smart — heading into next season. That means one of the aforementioned big contracts would have to be moved.
Hayward is coming off an injury that caused him to miss all but five minutes of the 2017-18 season. He was also signed because of his obvious fit in his former college coach Brad Stevens’ system.
As a defender of how good Horford is, even I don’t think he’s worth $27-million, $28-million and $30-million over the next three seasons. I seriously doubt a team will take that contract, let alone give up assets for it.
Lastly, there’s Irving, the player Ainge finally moved one of the Nets’ picks for. Wait, how were the Celtics able to acquire Irving again? Oh, yeah! Irving didn’t want to play second fiddle to James anymore so he demanded a trade out of Cleveland. I find it incredibly hard to believe that James would then turn around and sign with the team that Irving got traded to. And wouldn’t Irving feel a certain type of way about it?
In a post, NBCSportsBoston.com said, “Danny Ainge and the Celtics would have to get very creative if this was indeed an option with their cap situation.”
I don’t mean to underestimate Ainge, who’s done masterful job building the C’s roster, but I just don’t see it. Sure it’s possible that Ainge commands enough respect from James to have a conversation, but how far can those talks honestly go?
Meanwhile, there’s a team with an abundance of cap space, two superstars that are just scratching the surface, and that plays across the street from the Super Bowl LII Champion Eagles.