LeBron James made headlines last week for comments he made over the All-Star break about wanting to one day team up with fellow All-Stars Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Paul. James told Howard Beck of Bleacher Report in a piece centering on his friendship with Anthony that, "I really hope that, before our career is over, we can all play together... At least one, maybe one or two seasons -me, Melo, D-Wade, CP- we can get a year in. I would actually take a pay cut to do that."
While James didn't give specifics on when and where such a team-up would take place, Cavaliers beat reporter Dave McMenamin of ESPN thinks James and his super friends could eventually join forces in Los Angeles.
During an appearance on "Garbage Time with Katie Nolan: the Podcast," host Katie Nolan asked McMenamin if he thought James would ever play for another team other than the Cleveland Cavaliers, and his response was interesting given his proximity to James on the Cavs beat:
Yeah. I do. I don't think it'll be this summer, but... LeBron says he wants to play with Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade. I don't think that's going to happen in Cleveland. I would say that would happen on one of those two teams in Los Angeles... But I think it will not be happening anytime soon.
McMenamin is presumably not reporting anything here, only offering his most informed speculation, but the idea is an interesting one. Most have assumed the Lakers will look to use their league-leading $65.8 million in cap space this summer, but what if the team kept their powder dry for one more season?
LeBron has said he'd be willing to take a pay cut to join up with his friends, and if he either opted into his $24 million dollar player option for the 2016-17 season or signed another one-year deal with a player option attached this summer, he could be a free agent in the summer of 2017 when the salary cap is expected to spike once again.
Paul could also be a free agent that summer if he declines his $24.3 million player option for the 2017-18 season. Wade is a trickier scenario, as he is coming off of a one-year deal with the Heat this season and would presumably want more long-term security, but if Miami misses on the biggest fish it's at least possible they re-up him with a giant one-year payday again and try again next year.
Anthony would require even trickier contractual gymnastics, as he won't be able to be a free agent until the summer of 2018, meaning that the Lakers would have to try and put together a package to trade for him. Alternatively, the Lakers could continue with their rebuild for two more years while keeping their cap clean, hope that Paul opts into his one-year player option in 2017 and that James and Wade both take two-year deals this summer with third-year player options, and then count on all four being willing to take substantial pay cuts to team up in Los Angeles.
Basically, the Lakers would have to get incredibly lucky for this pipe-dream to happen, and even if it did, all four players will be older and in the midst of at least some level of decline.
This is also all pure speculation for now, and James, Paul, Wade, and Anthony could very well try and team up with the Clippers, or never end up teaming up at all. But McMenamin is as well sourced around the Cavaliers as anyone, so there is at least some small chance something like this could happen.