Right now all the NBA talk centers on whether the Timberwolves will trade Kevin Love and what happens to injured center Joel Embiid in the NBA Draft. Those are topics worthy of much discussion, truly, but they're merely the off-season appetizers. The main course, obviously in South Beach as the NBA world waits to see how the contract situation unfolds for the Heat's Big 3. More specifically, whether LeBron James huffs and puffs his way out of town or stays put with Miami aiming for a fifth straight finals appearance. Some teams are prepping just in case James says adios.
Obviously this depends on the Heat star exercising his player option and truly taking part in free agency as opposed to simply gearing up to re-sign with Miami. The idea of James joining forces with James Harden and Dwight Howard also hinges on Houston creating enough cap space.
Never say never, but this would be a true magic trick for Rockets GM Darryl Morey if he can pull off the latter to give himself a shot at the former. NBA writer Howard Beck lays out the plan:
- Trade Jeremy Lin and Omar Asik and do so without taking back salary. ProBasketballTalk notes that both players are each owed nearly $15 million in actual salary next season.
- Trade former first-round pick Donatas Motiejunas and Isaiah Canaan and do so without taking back salary.
- Waive other players with non-guaranteed deals
- Decline team option Chandler Parsons. This part of the scenario has been rumored with the idea being that Houston would re-sign the small forward and restricted free agent after signing other players. In this case, LeBron.
Best guess is the four-time MVP stays with Miami even after (or perhaps because) Pat Riley's " You’ve got to stay together if you’ve got the guts" speech. The Heat looked all kinds of old and needy against the Spurs, but they likely are being celebrated for a 3-peat if Oklahoma City reached the NBA Finals. Ultimately LeBron's best hope for a title remains with the Heat or at least a team in the Eastern Conference.
Whether it's James or not, sounds like Houston will do what it takes to have its own Big 3.
*The Cavaliers hiring David Blatt means no LeBron
Rather than going with a retread hire or the conventional route, Cleveland went way outside the box with its head coaching hire. Blatt, considered an offensive innovator, just coached Maccabi Tel Aviv to a stunner EuroLeague title and previously directed Russia to a bronze medal in the 2012 Olympics. Several NBA teams attempted to hire the 55-year-old American, who played collegiately under Pete Carrill at Princeton.
Upon the news, ESPN's Chris Broussard posted this tweet:
Nothing against David Blatt, but if Cavs finalize deal w/him any chance they had of getting LeBron shrinks considerably.— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) June 20, 2014
Here's the appropriate reaction to that insight: So what. Sure, any team would love LeBron's services, especially Cleveland and we all know why. But what are the Cavs supposed to do, make all their plans for a hail mary that James says I'm coming home? Also, why dismiss Blatt so quickly. His motion-offense will in theory look far more like San Antonio's attack than not. After the one-sided NBA finals that should impress LeBron, right?