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Rumor: LeBron James would take a meeting with the Warriors

It’s technically news, so we technically have to write about it. But also, it is nothing at all.

2017 NBA Finals - Game Five Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Well, this NBA season just keeps getting crazier and crazier.

In news that no one expected to see in February, ESPN reported that LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers would be willing to take a meeting with the Golden State Warriors this offseason.

Whoa. That, uhh . . . wasn’t the headline I was expecting this morning.

If it sounds crazy, it’s because it is. The story is, at the most, trying to make avocado toast out of an avocado pit in the compost pile.

While the initial headline of the rumor looks catchy, here’s what ESPN actually had to say: “If the Golden State Warriors can create a max salary slot this offseason, the defending NBA champions could position themselves to secure a meeting with LeBron James, league sources told ESPN.

There is no indication that Golden State is evaluating such options to acquire the Cleveland Cavaliers star at this time.

Out of respect for the Warriors’ winning culture, James would listen if Golden State explored ways to clear the necessary cap space, sources said.”

So, let’s recap. If the team magically clears roughly one trillion dollars, and then decided to pursue a player that we don’t know if they’ll pursue, then LeBron James won’t hang up the phone, out of respect.

Yeah, there’s not much to see here. What this really sounds like is someone asking someone in James’ camp if, hypothetically, he would consider playing for his main rival, and that someone saying “sure”.

The salary math sounded impossible, so I asked our resident cap expert, Patrick, about the rumor. Here’s what he said:

So to get the salary cap space you’d have to have KD renounce his option and that would take you to around the level of the salary cap. Then you’d have to trade away $35m in salary - so Klay and Iguodala would about do it. And then convince KD (now a free agent) to sign for the room exception of around $4.5m.

Or you could try a sign and trade, but any sign and trade hard caps you at the apron ($5m over the luxury tax line). So that would mean at the end of the transaction you couldn’t be above $128m. So Chris Haynes suggests trading Klay and Andre to make the salaries match, and have KD sign a contract lower than his already discounted option. Plus sign and trades are really hard to actually pull off.

I mean you could get Lebron to sign on the taxpayer mid level (around $5m) and come off the bench behind KD/ Dray but honestly I think he’d mess with the chemistry too much.

In other words: it ain’t happening.

That said, don’t think the Warriors wouldn’t be interested if it were actually feasible. Anyone saying the Warriors wouldn’t go after James because of rivalries or pettiness or the Cavs’ current mess is crazy.

The Warriors would jump at the chance to sign James. He’s arguably the greatest player of all time.

But just because they’d jump at a chance doesn’t mean that there is a chance.

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