The new-look Cavaliers sans an injured Kevin Love are 2-0 since the moves and fun to watch again. The Lakers have the ability to sign two major free agents this summer, but the Clippers don’t have that ability until 2019. Trading ex-Clippers star Blake Griffin just months after he signed a five-year contract has to be curious to a prospective free agent as well.“I wouldn’t be surprised if he stays in Cleveland now,” one high-ranking Eastern Conference team executive said. “The Cavaliers put a really good team around him. The Cavaliers have made it really tough for him to decide to leave Cleveland again. The Lakers might have helped them keep LeBron.”
Storyline: LeBron James Free Agency
DeAndre Jordan came close to being dealt to the Cavaliers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, but the deal fell through because the Clippers were unwilling to absorb Iman Shumpert’s salary. This makes the summer ahead that much more interesting for Jordan. With the salary cap flattening, only seven teams are expected to have over $10 million in cap space. There were 10 such teams last summer and 25 in 2016, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks and Brian Windhorst recently wrote. A dearth of free-agent funds will lead to a hard choice for Jordan, who has a player option worth $24.1 million for the 2018-19 season. But multiple league executives think it’s unlikely that he’d receive that type of money annually on the open market. Most of the teams that are expected to have money, like the Hawks, 76ers, and Nets, don’t need an expensive 30-year-old rim-running center, and the teams that do need one won’t have to pay him max money.
Storyline: DeAndre Jordan Free Agency
Multiple executives and agents think DeAndre Jordan’s decision might depend more on where he wants to play than the money he can make. Jordan said on February 9 that he wants to be somewhere he’s wanted, and he doesn’t know whether that can be said about the Clippers. Still, you need to be careful about the emotional roller coaster players experience ahead of free agency. Jordan might not have been happy to have been shopped in January and February, but things can change by June.
Hall of Famer Jerry West told those in attendance at Sunday’s Legends Brunch in Los Angeles that the NBA is poised for tremendous growth: “When I came to the city of Los Angeles, we were nobody. Last page of two newspapers. Had no writers, no coverage at all. And to see the way this game has changed and grown, and to see the strides that have been made for people who truly were able to contribute a different way is truly remarkable. “I want to say this. I don’t like to say things that are controversial at all. But this game is gonna overtake all the other sports.”