With less than 24 hours until the trade deadline, we take a look at what could happen:
Who wouldn’t trade for LeBron?
Cleveland send LeBron James to San Antonio, who send Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker to New Orleans, who send Anthony Davis and Ian Clark to the Cavaliers and Rajon Rondo to the Spurs.
Why Cleveland does it: Dan Gilbert and his front office have been tip-toeing around LeBron his entire Cavs career and won’t want to see James leave again in free agency while getting nothing back. This time they can get the fourth-most productive player (8.1 Win Shares) and the stability of a long-term contract the front office couldn’t get James to agree with. James needs to waive his no-trade clause, which he says he won’t, but maybe he can be enticed to work with Gregg Popovich and the only organization that can match James in rings since he entered the League.
Why San Antonio does it: uncertainty surrounding Leonard’s quad injury and whether he can return to past form would lead the Spurs to make a deal for the best player in the world. Rondo is still an elite point guard in the right circumstances, and this environment would be ripe for him to thrive like he did in Boston. Pop can charm James into signing with the Spurs long-term and hope the Pels waive Parker so he can retire with the Spurs.
Why New Orleans does it: five seasons led by Davis and zero playoff wins to show for it. The Pels are currently hanging on to the eighth playoff spot with DeMarcus Cousins out and coming off the books. AD’s extension could pay him more than $80 million over the next three years while Leonard has next year and a player option in 2019-20 for $20.1 million that he may want to explore on the open market. This gives the front office a shorter timeline and major upside if Leonard comes back to Finals MVP form next year.