In sending Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons, the Los Angeles Clippers traded away their franchise player. According to one report, the Clippers are hoping it won't be long until they acquire their next one, with Marc Stein of The New York Times reporting Tinseltown's No. 2 NBA team is gearing up for a summer run at LeBron James.
In a Tuesday column breaking down the trade, Stein further explained the Clippers' rationale behind trading Griffin and how it relates to the Cleveland Cavaliers' superstar.
And here’s what it really means: L.A.’s new front-office voices — most notably the legendary Jerry West — convinced the Clippers’ ring-hungry owner, Steve Ballmer, that they have a real shot to force their way into the free-agent mix this summer for Paul George and (gasp) even LeBron James. All they had to do was jettison Griffin and create some more salary-cap flexibility.
Multiple league insiders said Monday night that the Clippers aim to keep trying to create salary-cap space for this July — enough for multiple maximum contracts if everything falls just right — through potential trades headlined by DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams, both of whom (as we recently reported) are coveted by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Clippers, of course, aren't the only team to be linked to James, who can opt out of his contract and become a free agent this summer. Dating back to last June, the Lakers, Rockets and 76ers have each been rumored to be making a run at James. On Monday, Fox Sports Radio host Colin Cowherd even went as far as to say he had inside info that LeBron to the Lakers was a real possibility.
As for the Clippers chances of luring LeBron to La La Land, it doesn't appear likely the 4-time MVP would view that Los Angeles franchise as a viable destination. On Tuesday, The Undefeated's Marc Spears penned a story stating "Even a king's ransom would not be enough to lure LeBron James to Clippers."
Nevertheless, that won't stop the Clippers from having hope -- or at least selling it to their fanbase. James, for his part, has remained mum on his impending free agency dating back to the preseason -- not that that will stop the rest of us from speculating about it until this summer arrives.