Clippers are LeBron's best title shot

Window closing for Heat?

Such a hypothetical Heat roster suffers from one key limitation: It's not built to last. Bosh is past his peak, and Wade is already in steep decline -- and yet those players would be locked into long-term deals with Miami in this scenario (in exchange for accepting less money up front). Simply put: While such a rebuilt Heat team could probably contend for a title next season, its window would close rapidly. And weighed down with albatross long-term contracts for Wade and Bosh, Miami would have limited ability to upgrade moving forward unless the salary cap rises dramatically.

The upshot is this: LeBron has a better option to win multiple rings in the years ahead: Form a new Big Three in L.A.

The chance to be historically great

The Clippers' epic run of bad luck looks like it's finally run its course: Donald Sterling is (nearly) out, Steve Ballmer's (almost) in, Doc Rivers has imported his Ubuntu mojo, and Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are leading the Lob City revival of exciting, winning basketball.

And, as it turns out, the Clippers are LeBron's best possible landing spot this summer.

To figure this out, we ran the real plus-minus numbers on dozens of possible scenarios -- LeBron with the Rockets (with or without Carmelo Anthony), LeBron with the Warriors, and then the Cavs, the Lakers and so on.

No other option comes close to the Clippers.

And, remarkably, there are two completely different ways the Clips could land LeBron and still be historically great: (a) by clearing cap space by offloading several tradable players; or (b) by working with the Heat on a sign-and-trade of LeBron for Griffin.

Naturally, the team would strongly prefer to keep Griffin. No doubt LeBron would also find it much more enticing to join the Clippers with Griffin still on the roster. So, we'll focus our analysis on that scenario -- but while noting that swapping Blake for LeBron also yields a Clippers roster that can be historically good.

To free up enough cap space to sign LeBron as a max-level free agent, the Clippers would need to find a taker for the following players among teams with the cap room to absorb their contracts: DeAndre Jordan (owed $11.4 million next year), J.J. Redick ($6.8 million), Jamal Crawford ($5.4 million) and Jared Dudley ($4.2 million).

According to RPM, Jordan is an elite starting center, and he's on a reasonable contract, so there would be no shortage of suitors for his services, even if the other team also had to take on Dudley's and/or Redick's contract to make it happen. Likewise, elite sixth-man Jamal Crawford is priced attractively enough to move without difficulty.

And, if all else failed, LeBron could conceivably use his leverage to coerce Miami into a sign-and-trade with the Clippers for Jordan and others (a better option for the Heat than simply watching LeBron walk away).

Here's what the resulting Clippers lineup might look like:

Page
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...