LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony have been making national headlines together since ESPN aired a matchup between St. Vincent St. Mary’s and Oak Hill Academy in February 2002. Carmelo’s team beat LeBron’s 72-66 in their first ever matchup, but James has held a slight advantage ever since: He’s compiled a 14-12 record against Anthony since they were drafted in 2003, including a 4-1 edge in the playoffs. But why continue competing against each other when LeBron and Carmelo could team up? According to ESPN, that’s the question multiple organizations will be asking the superstar friends this summer in hopes of pulling off a free agency coup similar to the Miami Heat’s in 2010.
The unsurprising news comes courtesy of ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein.
With LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony officially opting out of their contracts, multiple teams have begun the process of exploring roster moves that would create sufficient salary-cap space to sign 2014’s marquee free agents in tandem this summer, according to sources close to the situation.
In addition to the Miami Heat’s obvious desire to retain James by any means necessary and pursue Anthony if he urges them to do so, sources told ESPN.com on Tuesday that the Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks are among the teams mulling potential trades designed to clear enough cap space to be able to recruit the two stars and close friends.
The Los Angeles Lakers, meanwhile, had begun exploring such machinations even before the opt outs of James and Anthony had become known, according to ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne.
With possible exceptions of the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder, every team in the league should be thinking of ways to clear enough cap space to offer James or Anthony maximum-level contracts. It’s only logical for those that have the cap flexibility and/or are potential favorites to land either player to chase both stars.
It bears mentioning that the majority of organizations going after James or Anthony need to complete major cap acrobatics just to sign one of them. Nabbing both, then, seems almost impossible for now, but the ambitions of Cleveland, Atlanta, and even the Lakers make for some interesting fodder. The same goes for the now old news that the Heat long to acquire ‘Melo in addition to retaining LeBron.
So while it seems very unlikely that James and Anthony could team up this summer, it appeared similarly so at this point four years ago when the possibility of LeBron, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh signing in Miami was first broached. This is the player movement era, and there’s a precedent for superstars to take less money than they could command so a team can build a better roster around them. Indeed, a portion of Windhorst and Stein’s report hints that James might do just that.
Sources say the timing of James making his opt out known six days before his deadline of Monday was done in part to give teams that may want to recruit him enough notice to pursue the needed roster alterations. This includes a Heat team less than two weeks removed from a lopsided NBA Finals loss to the San Antonio Spurs that had James calling for upgrades to the roster “at every position.”
But either James or Anthony taking a pay-cut big enough to make room for the other? For now, keep dreaming. LeBron is still most likely to re-sign with the Heat, and ‘Melo seems destined for Chicago, Houston, or Dallas. As we all know, though, these things develop quickly, and the current generation of stars has a way of getting its wish. If LeBron and Carmelo have their hearts set on playing together, they could probably make it happen. Stay tuned.
Do you want to see LeBron and ‘Melo on the same team?
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