The first major storyline in the third installment of the LeBron James Free Agency trilogy was resolved on Friday. LeBron James has decided to end the last year of his contract, according to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com.
LeBron James & # 39; Agent informed Cavs that he will not exercise his $ 35.6 million option and thus become an unrestricted free agent, sources report @clevelanddotcom … history is coming
– Joe Vardon (@joevardon) June 29, 2018
In the past, this decision was just a formality and did not tell us anything about its free agent plans. James decided to spend less on season money for just one extra season or secure the option of getting more money – either through a long-term contract or a two-year contract with a player option in the second year for maximum flexibility. Of course James and every other player in this situation would sign out if they had the choice.
Thanks to a variety of circumstances, this year's exit decision was different. The decision of James had a significant impact on the hunt this season because it severely limited the field. If you're not a fan of 76ers, Lakers, or Cavaliers, your team has almost no hope of acquiring James now.
I'm sorry, Rockets fans. Nothing is really impossible with Daryl Morey, but her only real hope was when James decided to force a deal, a la Chris Paul. Now they lack Cap Area to sign James, and sign-and-trade opportunities are slim.
We will find a connection in a second, but first.
Why did you even opt for a workable scenario? ? Thanks Chris Paul
Last summer Paul faced a dilemma. He was ready to team up with James Harden on Houston Rockets, but the Rockets lacked Cap space to sign him.
That seemed to close the door to a possible union, as an idiot wrote. To create enough space to sign Paul, Houston had to reduce at least $ 25 million in long-term salary within a few days, and no team would invest so much money in its open market capitalization without inflicting much pain on the shape of future assets.
But Paul found a unique way to make his journey to Houston possible. Instead of deciding on the formality of the exit and becoming officially a free agent, Paul decided to develop a trade in . All Houston had to do was squeeze enough salaries to add up the $ 25 million Paul had left over in the last year of his contract.
General Manager Daryl Morey did so in an entertaining manner and garnered an army of non-guaranteed contracts Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Sam Dekker, and Montrezl Harrell to pick the first round next year. The Clippers, who did not want to lose Paul in vain, accepted the deal. So Paul made a deal to Houston and allowed the Rockets to maintain the mid-level exception to sign P.J. Tucker.
A year later, Paul is a free agent, but he is expected to sign a long-term maximum contract to stay with Houston. So he found a unique opportunity to choose the team he wanted in the free agency, even if that team did not have enough space to sign it.
LeBron could have done the same, but did not. 19659014] If LeBron wanted his pick from one of the 29 other teams in the NBA, he could have pulled the same move as Paul. He could have told the Cavaliers of his intention to go elsewhere and give them his preferred new destination. Cleveland would then have had the choice: to call LeBron's bluff and risk losing him for nothing in a freelance agency or accepting a trading package for a player who would go anyway.
If the Cavaliers had opted for Option 2, they would have negotiated a legal trade deal with LeBron's favored team and used James's $ 35.6 million player option as the salary they needed to fulfill. Each team could theoretically do that, though some can do it easier than others. Houston could have done that.
But he has decided. So why does Houston's chances kill
Opting out effectively limits the field to the following teams: Lakers, Sixers and Cavaliers. The Lakers and 76ers are the only teams in the LeBron hunt that can fit the cap, and the Cavaliers have Bird Rights. None of the other potential LeBron destinations have enough cap area to grant LeBron a maximum contract starting at 35 percent of the salary cap.
These included the Rockets, who would have liked to take LeBron despite James Harden's words after the NBA award ceremony. Houston is well above the salary cap even before he has opted for Paul and Clint Capela. Even trading Ryan Anderson while not taking back a salary will not get her close enough to sign James directly.
This includes the Celtics, Spurs, Heat, Clippers and all other wildcard LeBron destinations.
Sign-and-trade scenarios are technically possible but unlikely. Any sign-and-trade team can not end up with more than $ 6 million in taxes over the luxury tax due to NBA rules. This would make it difficult for James's new team to complete his roster, so it makes little sense that they will later wait and act on James if they can trade James against .
In the case of the Rockets, a sign-and-trade is functionally impossible because they also have to re-sign Paul and Capela. There is almost no possibility for them to keep all these players and to have a team salary of less than $ 6 million over the luxury tax. I say almost because with Morey everything is possible, but it would require trading so much salary without getting anything in return for being functionally impossible.
Any team without Cap space had to hope that LeBron decided to develop a trade there. But now that LeBron has unsubscribed, they are almost certainly out of the race.
So James's decision to quit was not a pure formality this time. This is now a three man race.
This story was published before LeBron's opt-out decision and was subsequently updated.