San Antonio Spurs Free Agency

San Antonio Spurs: 4 factors to use to recruit LeBron James

By Rob Wolkenbrod
SAN ANTONIO,TX - JANUARY 23 : LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shares a laugh with head coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs at the end of the game at AT&T Center on January 23, 2018 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that , by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO,TX - JANUARY 23 : LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shares a laugh with head coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs at the end of the game at AT&T Center on January 23, 2018 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that , by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
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SAN ANTONIO, TX – JANUARY 23: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers after he scores his 30,000th career point during the game against the San Antonio Spurs on January 23, 2018 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Darren Carroll/NBAE via Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX – JANUARY 23: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers after he scores his 30,000th career point during the game against the San Antonio Spurs on January 23, 2018 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Darren Carroll/NBAE via Getty Images)

If the San Antonio Spurs stand a chance at LeBron James, there could be some factors in play.

With the 2018 NBA Finals over, the San Antonio Spurs have an offseason to make that’s full of decisions. Whether it’s potential free agents, the draft or Kawhi Leonard, it will potentially become the most active and important summer in recent franchise history.

In this era of the NBA, teams have attempted to gather as many superstars as possible to compete with the Golden State Warriors and win the title. The Spurs, for now, have Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge in their arsenal. Adding another one might put them over the top, and whether that happens this offseason remains to be seen.

What if, if he hits free agency, it’s LeBron James? In the 12 hours since the Cleveland Cavaliers lost the NBA Finals, much has been made about his future, all of which surrounds speculation.

There’s no indication that James will join the Spurs this offseason. Hypothetically, though, for some fans of this team, it would be a dream scenario. It’s a player considered not just the Association’s best player right now, but among the top to ever play the game, a name mentioned with Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and other Hall of Fame talents.

Would San Antonio stand a chance at James? If so, there are some factors for him to lean towards this organization and make an offseason-altering move. All things considered, this is without the potential salary cap crux that this acquisition likely causes.

Next: The Dejounte Murray effect

CLEVELAND, OH – JANUARY 21: Dejounte Murray #5 of the San Antonio Spurs greets LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the first half at Quicken Loans Arena on January 21, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH – JANUARY 21: Dejounte Murray #5 of the San Antonio Spurs greets LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the first half at Quicken Loans Arena on January 21, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

The Dejounte Murray effect

Once the 2018 NBA Finals ended, the “recruitment” of LeBron James began. Players tweeted subtle pleas for James to join their squad, or at least leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for a new destination.

Dejounte Murray was among the players that made subtle (or maybe not) tweet for James to leave Cleveland, with a picture of him in a No. 23 San Antonio Spurs jersey. It received over 24,000 retweets.

https://twitter.com/DejounteMurray/status/1005290955149201408

It’s not exactly a random tweet, however, as Murray and James developed a connection off the court since 2016, when the former entered the NBA out of Washington. The two are part of Klutch Sports Group, according to The Seattle Times, so that’s potentially where this friendship started.

MySanAntonio.com also noted how Murray attended Game 3 of the NBA Finals and sat behind the Cavaliers bench. That only fired up speculation.

How far can the Murray Effect go? That goes beyond the hardwood and into any recruitment meetings between the Spurs and James, pending the two sides actually sit down this summer. Having a familiar face sitting in can’t hurt, though, if it improves the organization’s chances.

There’s upside for Murray’s role in this situation. His impact is in question, but it’s a building block towards this potential acquisition’s development.

Next: Gregg Popovich

SAN ANTONIO,TX – JANUARY 23 : LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shares a laugh with head coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs at the end of the game at AT&T Center on January 23, 2018 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that , by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO,TX – JANUARY 23 : LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shares a laugh with head coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs at the end of the game at AT&T Center on January 23, 2018 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that , by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)

Gregg Popovich

San Antonio Spurs fans already know LeBron James’s affinity for head coach Gregg Popovich. Earlier this season James called Popovich “one of my favorite people of all time.”

There’s also Popovich’s words for James, who was described as a role model in sports in February, around the time a Fox News reporter made the “shut and dribble” comments:

Gregg Popovich's comments about LeBron James as a role model and voice in sports. pic.twitter.com/BpPcLoIge0

— Greg Swartz (@CavsGregBR) February 25, 2018

If James considers the Spurs in free agency, these two already have some form of a bond which can at least make a meeting go smoothly along with the building blocks of recruiting him to play in San Antonio.

Popovich himself is a piece of the recruitment allure, however. With five championships and 21 consecutive playoff appearances under his belt, it allows James to enter a situation that has arguably one of the NBA’s greatest coaches of all time at the helm. Learning under the 69 year old might be different than from any coach he played under, whether it was Erik Spoelstra, Tyronn Luke or Mike Brown.

Popovich also stands out over Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown and Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton, two destinations that have received the most speculation for James. Brown and Walton found success as assistants and the former made the 2018 postseason with a rebuilding 76ers team, but if coaching matters the most to James, or is at least an undeniable factor, then what Popovich has done as a head coach outweighs both of them.

Can a coach cause James to sign with the Spurs? Would he be a factor?

Next: Teaming with another superstar

NEW YORK, NY – JANUARY 02: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs in action against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on January 2, 2018 in New York City. The Spurs defeated the Knicks 100-91. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY – JANUARY 02: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs in action against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on January 2, 2018 in New York City. The Spurs defeated the Knicks 100-91. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The allure of teaming with another superstar

With the current standing of the San Antonio Spurs roster there’s one superstar, Kawhi Leonard, and one of the NBA’s most talented power forwards, LaMarcus Aldridge. It’s an appealing 1-2 punch for LeBron James to join this summer, but with no guarantee this roster stays together.

Leonard’s situation with the Spurs clouded most of the 2017-18 season. It started with a mysterious quad injury, before the year started, which lingered for all but nine games. However, rumors developed of a problematic relationship between the two sides due to the handling of the ailment.

After five months of reported problems, the Spurs and Leonard will apparently meet before the 2018 NBA Draft. It’s the chance to settle everything and create an opening for the suspected “supermax” contract of $219 million over five years.

If Leonard stays he might be the piece that brings James to San Antonio as, when healthy, the former proved to be one of the NBA’s most dynamic players at both ends of the court. The shooting, distributing and defensive abilities made the San Diego State product into a star and beyond his No. 15 selection-standing in the 2011 NBA Draft.

A younger version of James, if healthy, would alleviate pressure to be the do-it-all player, as they can form a dynamic duo and work together to close off the opposition’s top offensive weapons and become mismatch nightmares for anyone. Along with Aldridge’s support in the low post, it provides intrigue for how these three can work together to win a title.

If the Leonard meeting goes sour and he moves elsewhere, one would think it lessens the chances of this superstar acquisition. So let’s see what develops before the draft.

Next: Championship pedigree

CLEVELAND – JUNE 14: Tony Parker #9 and Manu Ginobili #20 of the San Antonio Spurs celebrate the win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Four of the NBA Finals on June 14, 2007 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND – JUNE 14: Tony Parker #9 and Manu Ginobili #20 of the San Antonio Spurs celebrate the win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Four of the NBA Finals on June 14, 2007 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

Championship pedigree

The San Antonio Spurs might have some competition in championship pedigree, especially since the Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers have won championships. However, the Sixers last won in 1983 and the Lakers don’t have any roster holdovers from 2010, unless coach Luke Walton counts.

With the Spurs there’s still the holdover of Gregg Popovich, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, pending the latter two stay with the organization this summer. This trio have either won four or five titles over the past two decades and it has created an expectation for San Antonio to compete each season.

If James joins the Silver and Black, he becomes part of an organization that’s tied for the most titles (five) over the past 20 years and, aside from the Leonard saga, has not dealt with team drama. This happened in the future Hall of Famer’s second stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, with the Kyrie Irving trade, the firing of David Blatt and the midseason roster reconstruction at the 2018 trade deadline.

Next: 2018 NBA Mock Draft

Of course there are no guarantees, but the Spurs have sustained success and the group that’s in place should be able to maintain it. As long as that’s the case, James can find some stabilitiy in the latter part of his career.

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