LeBron James in a Los Angeles Clippers uniform? The back-to-back NBA Finals MVP is months away from potentially testing the free agency waters, but he could be interested in landing in Los Angeles with Chris Paul and Doc Rivers, suggests ESPN's Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne:
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.
James has not spoken about his plans for the summer, something he vowed to stay away from before the season began. The Clippers would need to clear cap space if they wanted to land James and would still likely need to acquire him through a sign-and-trade. League executives believe the Heat would ask for a package built around Blake Griffin if James leverages his way to Los Angeles this summer, though the team could have other trade options.
Neither team is expected to engage in preliminary discussions prior to the trade deadline, though both are said to be already looking ahead to the summer. James signing with Los Angeles won't be as straight forward as joining a team that has the cap space available to outright offer him a contract, but it could be one of the many possibilities he will consider once he finishes his fourth season with the Heat.
Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and James each have early termination options this summer and can test the free agency market. The Heat have stayed the course with their roster, making minor adjustments as the team attempts to make their fourth NBA Finals appearance in a row since the "Big Three" era began.