During the upcoming offseason, many may speculate about LeBron James leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to join his longtime friend Chris Paul.
According to USA TODAY’s Sam Amick, rival executives around the league believe Houston is a legitimate potential destination for James.
Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst wrote about why the Lakers are a “longshot” to land the four-time NBA MVP.
While the report mentions there is validity to rumors about James to the Rockets, there is still reason to pause about the superstar joining Houston (via ESPN):
“There’s reason to pay attention to the Houston connection. James and Paul have been friends since high school, won two gold medals together and recently led the players’ union through CBA negotiations with Paul as president and James as VP. They are in position to be free agents at the same time for the first time in their careers next summer. However, league sources called the concept that James and Paul want to spend their golden years as teammates an overstated assumption.”
Even if James was fully committed to playing with Paul, there would be plenty of hurdles to jump.
The franchise would not be able to keep players like Ryan Anderson, PJ Tucker, Nenê, Clint Capela or Eric Gordon and may have to trade them away. Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute are going to be free agents so both would need to take significantly less money to return.
In his recent column, Jonathan Tjarks also wrote that Paul and James would need to take a pay cut as well (via The Ringer):
“A lot of sacrifice would still be required. Paul, Mbah a Moute, and Ariza will all be unrestricted free agents, while Capela is up for an extension on his rookie contract. Neither LeBron nor Paul could sign maximum contracts if they wanted to team up on the Rockets.”
However, the aforementioned ESPN report suggests James will not take anything less than a maximum deal. It’s important to note Paul, who has previously said he wanted to play with James, would have to give lots of money to make it happen.
While stranger things have happened, it’s probably an appropriate time to slow the roll on the rumblings.