As teams around the league in an attempt to clear cap space for this summer’s historic free agency period, the long-standing sentiment is that for many of these teams, it’s LeBron, Wade, Bosh or bust. From a ticket-selling perspective, that’s probably true; a lot of fan bases will consider anything less a failure, and may not fully trust their teams until they start winning games. Makes sense, given that most of the teams fighting for free agents this summer will be lottery squads or lower playoff seeds.
That doesn’t mean that teams can’t win big this summer without a big name, though. Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus breaks down three alternative free agent strategies that teams could employ this summer, either after a swing-and-a-miss at the top dogs or as their plan of attack from the start.
Contingency plans like these are essentially due an incredibly complicated numbers game: 30 teams in the league want LeBron, Wade, and Bosh, but there’s only one of each of those guys. Heady stuff, I know, but it needs to be said. Pelton’s strategies won’t work for any team, and they’re highly contextual, as they should be. But he does offer some intriguing options for the teams that won’t have the privilege of netting a LeBron James, complete with some surprisingly talented players that may suddenly become available.