According to an incredibly speculative ESPN.com report from Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne, LeBron James, if he exercises the opt-out clause in his contract with the Miami Heat this summer and proceeds to test free agency, he could be interested in the Los Angeles Clippers, even though he has never said that. Why? Because with the Clippers he could join forces with Doc Rivers, Chris Paul and whoever else remains on the roster should the Clippers somehow manage to figure out a means through which the organization actually could to sign LeBron to a deal.
An awful lot of “ifs” going on there.
“This time is going to be different,” a source close to James said about James’ view of free agency. “If LeBron decides to look at other options it won’t just be teams with cap space. He has 30 options if he wants them.”
One of those options appears to be the Clippers, according to the aforementioned speculative report.
The James contingency has been examined by the Clippers, sources told ESPN. The Heat, one of the most thorough and thoughtful organizations in the league, are quite aware the Clippers could end up being a competitor if James elects to opt out. Perhaps the most serious competitor of all.
Primarily this is because of James’ relationships with Paul and Rivers. Paul is one of James’ best friends and the two have talked about playing with each other since they were in high school, when they met on the AAU and prep All-Star circuits. Paul is godfather to James’ son Bryce and they were in each other’s weddings.
Well, put it that way and all that is left is for LeBron and his people to arrive at an agreement with ESPN so The Worldwide Leader in Sports can air “The Decision 2: Electric Boogaloo” and after that, LeBron and his Clippers teammates can grandstand and pull off a shamefully over-the-top introductory spectacle, right?
Not so fast. LeBron has learned a thing or two about the free agency game since signing with the Heat way back when.
The ESPN report continues.
The takeaway from that operation: Don’t assume anything and don’t underestimate competition.
Stemming from that experience, while James is content for the time being, he does not plan to close any doors. He’s admitted that he paid a public relations price for how his free agency was executed in 2010. But he has no regrets in how his open-mindedness about his options changed the face of the league and propelled him to championships. Now more emboldened and self-assured, James has more power and perspective than ever before.
“LeBron is not thinking about free agency right now, he’s totally focused on the season,” said one James associate. “In the summer he knows he can get to any team he wants to.”
Gotcha. So, when he does think about free agency, if he opts out of his deal, the Clippers are frontrunners, then? No? It could be any team LeBron wants? Cool beans.
Let the speculation commence. It’s going to be a long few months if this keeps up.