With Dwyane Wade joining LeBron James with the Cavaliers this week, one half of the famed Banana Boat crew is together as teammates. The other two members of the most famous friend group in the NBA also changed teams this summer, with Chris Paul heading to Houston in a trade and Carmelo Anthony landing in Oklahoma City.
While Carmelo has said there was a draft night deal that nearly led to he and James becoming teammates (along with Paul George), a full Banana Boat squad seems like little more than a dream. Making the money work is tricky in any situation that requires the team to have Bird Rights on at least one of the players involved — preferably the one that is willing to restructure their deal to allow the others to all come on board.
All four members of the crew can be free agents next summer, with LeBron and Melo having options and Wade and Paul simply becoming unrestricted free agents. So, theoretically one team could make it happen if they had the spots and the funds. With Wade and James already in Cleveland, and LeBron certainly not hurting for money and a potential candidate to take a pay cut to bring his boys into town, the Cavs may be the most likely destination.
At least, that’s how Jalen Rose sees it, as he told us on the DIME Podcast this week.
“How about this for your theory? Isaiah Thomas is in the last year of his deal. Chris Paul is on a one-year deal. How bout he can leave Houston after this year and end up in Cleveland as well? There’s your superteam in the Eastern Conference, if they so choose. And lastly, the other person you mentioned, Carmelo. Same thing. If that’s what he chose. That could also take place at the end of this year. In the Eastern Conference it has more gravity, because the Eastern Conference, especially from four, five teams down, is more wide open.
“In the Western Conference, that doesn’t necessarily win it. That doesn’t necessarily win certain divisions. That doesn’t necessarily win you the conference, having those four players together on a team. Though CP3 is still playing at an All-Star level and LeBron at an MVP level, Melo’s still scoring 20-plus points and Dwyane Wade is still 18-plus point scorer last season. So, while still productive, there’s still a handful of teams — the Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs stay in the mix, I think people are underestimating the Los Angeles Clippers, the Minnesota Timberwolves are coming, and the Houston Rockets stay in the mix — [that could challenge them]. Based on that, it’s going to take place with, as you mention the Banana Boat crew, it would be more apt to take place in the Eastern Conference.”
The reasoning on why it makes more sense for them to make this happen in the East rather than the West is sound, and that means Cleveland is the only possible spot to do it. That said, the cap sheet isn’t pretty in Cleveland for next season and it would take some serious magic, sign-and-trades, and financial concessions to make it happen, but it’s not impossible and Rose isn’t the only one to suggest the quartet of stars could be eyeing playing together, as Blake Griffin said something similarly this summer.
The Cavs would have to move some of their bigger contracts, namely finding a salary dump move this season for Iman Shumpert (set to make $11 million next year on a player option) and dealing Kevin Love (who could be a candidate to be traded to land Anthony). The biggest question will be how much do these guys want to go after another big check and how much do they really want to try playing together. If it’s the former, the answer to this exercise is that it’s impossible. However, if each is willing to make a financial sacrifice, it’s not out of the realm of possibility.