LeBron James has never shied from the fact that his best friends in the NBA don’t play for the Cavaliers: Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul.
But what if they were teammates?
LeBron, via Howard Beck of Bleacher Report:
“I really hope that, before our career is over, we can all play together,” James said. “At least one, maybe one or two seasons—me, Melo, D-Wade, CP—we can get a year in. I would actually take a pay cut to do that.”
“It would be pretty cool,” James said. “I’ve definitely had thoughts about it.”
The big question: Where would it happen?
Wade calls himself a “HeatLifer.” Melo has been outspoken about his loyalty to New York. Paul can become a free agent in 2017. LeBron can become a free agent this summer and is sending strange signals about his devotion to the Cavaliers.
LeBron probably ruined the most realistic opportunity for the four to play together when he left Miami in 2014. That summer, the Heat were trying to add Melo and already held LeBron’s and Wade’s Bird Rights. With the salary cap skyrocketing, perhaps they could’ve found a way to fit Paul in 2017.
Even that would’ve been a longshot, though. Star players like the idea of playing with their friends. It’s much harder to get everyone on board in reality. Mostly, I view LeBron’s statement as an unrealistic fantasy.
But the fact that LeBron went on record with his willingness to take a pay cut shows his commitment to the idea. Remember, in 2014, he put out word that he would accept no less than a max contract.
It’d be hard for LeBron to leave Cleveland after he framed his return around coming home. The backlash would be immense. But staying with the Cavs clearly isn’t his only concern (just as no player picks a team for a single reason). He also wants to play with Melo, Wade and Paul.
Any team that wants to sign LeBron – Cavaliers included – should consider a plan than unites the four. Bringing it to fruition might be improbably, but as we’ve seen, LeBron is willing to send passive-aggressive signals.