San Antonio Spurs: LeBron James is Only a Dream
By Rob Wolkenbrod
The idea of LeBron James signing with the San Antonio Spurs has popped up, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The San Antonio Spurs used to be the force of the Western Conference. Then came the rise of the Golden State Warriors in 2015. Ever since then, it’s been a struggle to get a hold of the top of the conference again, something that came to light, even more, when the Warriors swept the Spurs in May.
The Spurs will need to regroup this offseason and focus on building a team that can take down Golden State. That may not happen overnight, let alone this offseason, in general. By 2018, when more cap space will be available (Danny Green and Pau Gasol are guaranteed to be off the books), they’ll have the opportunity to make a play at a big name. The fast forward button is being hit on this, however, with LeBron James donning a San Antonio uniform next offseason. That’s at least what ESPN’s Max Kellerman said on First Take (h/t KSAT.com).
FOX Sports also chronicled why James should leave for San Antonio. Chris Paul is given as a top reason:
That would be fellow Banana Boat best friend Chris Paul, of course. It doesn’t make much sense for the Spurs to gut their roster in order to add CP3 this offseason if that’s the only move they plan to make. He’d help alongside Kawhi Leonard, but he wouldn’t take San Antonio over the top against the Warriors.
Suddenly, LBJ going to the Spurs is an idea that’s gained some steam. It’s never been rumored — only speculated — but should only be considered a dream.
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If the Spurs sign Paul this summer, they’ll have to reconfigure the roster, except Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge and maybe Tony Parker. A deal could bring Paul over $30 million annually, which will consume about one-third of the available salary cap. That means undrafted free agents and players on veteran minimum deals will fill out the roster.
Would the Spurs be willing to do this for a second-consecutive offseason in 2018, by signing James? Doing this once, let alone twice, hasn’t been in the organization’s DNA, at least for the past two decades. They’ve been accustomed to players like Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili temper their annual salaries, for the sake of adding other players in free agency. It’s allowed the team to fill out a quality, championship-caliber roster. Would they be able to do that after gutting the roster in back-to-back years?
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Seeing LeBron spurn Cleveland for a second time would be shocking; not as much as the first go-around in 2010, as he brought them a title in 2016. Would he actually leave, though? It seems hard to believe it happening again, even if the franchise fails to win in 2018.
The Cavs should do whatever it takes to build a team that can match the Warriors, whether it’s targeting Paul George, finding a taker for Tristan Thompson’s expensive contract or unloading Kevin Love in a deal for a top star. It will be all about making James happy, so everyone will await the potentially-drastic measure Cleveland takes.
Would James even look to play in a smaller market like San Antonio, TX? Sure, he’s played in Cleveland for most of his NBA career, which is far from the biggest market in the league; but it’s also near his hometown of Akron, OH. San Antonio isn’t a Los Angeles, Manhattan or Chicago on a popularity scale. It should be noted James visited the Bulls, Clippers, Heat, Knicks and Nets in 2010, the first time he was a free agent.
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If the Cavaliers pull off an NBA championship win in 2018, then officially take the Spurs out of the running for King James. Of course, if they don’t, then any big-name team will look like a contender.