When the L.A. Clippers traded Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons, it was the final nail in the coffin for the Lob City era of the franchise. With a reset underway, many have speculated that Jerry West is looking to position themselves to be a player in free agency.
But as explained by Marc Spears of The Undefeated, the Clippers shouldn’t hold their breath when it comes to signing LeBron James:
By making a money move that they believe is best for their future, the Clippers could have as much as about $27 million this offseason available in free agency if they waive guards Patrick Beverley and Milos Teodosic. (Thank you, ESPN.com’s Bobby Marks, for the financial help.) That would basically leave James or any other marquee free agent to play with Harris, oft-injured forward Danilo Gallinari, guard Austin Rivers and perhaps a heralded rookie next season. Now, if James signed and was patient, the Clippers could have potentially $40 million to $60 million available in the summer of 2019, when All-Star guards Klay Thompson and Jimmy Butler become free agents.
The Cleveland Cavaliers forward, however, doesn’t have room to be patient, as he is in his prime in his 15th NBA season at 33 years old.
The other factor in this may be how the Clippers treated Blake Griffin, after signing a 5-year max deal to be the face of the franchise. It’s worth noting that this was possible because Griffin used the Phoenix Suns as leverage to get a fifth year instead of a no-trade clause. But even with that, as head of the Player’s Union LeBron likely does not view this move as an ideal treatment of a star player.
In addition to that, LeBron has made it clear on several occasions that he is done with taking pay cuts to help out billionaires. Even if the Clippers could clear the $27 million, it still likely wouldn’t be enough to make a bid for his services.
Whenever a team creates some cap space in the coming months, the idea of signing LeBron is likely going to be floated. But it’s probably safe to strike the Clippers out as a possible landing spot.