In a fascinating and wide-ranging examination of the history between Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James and New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, the two reflected on how they became friends, how they never let a rivalry separate that friendship and the various decisions that led to them never playing together the way James teamed up with Dwyane Wade in Miami.
What will likely draw the most raised eyebrows, however, is James’ comment about the future of such a possibility, and how he would even “take a paycut” team up with Wade (again) along with Melo and their good friend Chris Paul.
“I really hope that, before our career is over, we can all play together,” James said. “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.”
Maybe at the end of their careers, James said. Maybe sooner. One more ring chase, this time with everyone on board.
“It would be pretty cool,” James said. “I’ve definitely had thoughts about it.”
Before bounding away, he smiles and closes with a coy chirp: “We’ll see.”
First off, the likelihood of this happening is extremely small. Even with an expanded cap, you have to find a number all four would be OK with, even in a later stage of their careers. NBA careers are short and the common paradigm is to make as much as you possibly can before the well is dry. Second, you have to find somewhere they would all want to live for 41 games a year. Miami’s a pretty good fill-in there, but that requires James to abandon Cleveland, again, even in the twilight of his career, and things are still awfully frosty with him and the Heat after his departure two years ago. Third, all four would have to be in a position to leave their respective teams to do this. The clock is ticking on Wade’s career despite a bounce-back season from him this year.
It’s an even more preposterous idea than James leaving Cleveland to join the Heat with Chris Bosh back in 2010, and there were about a thousand ways that could have been derailed. It’s just a fairytale.
So let’s sprinkle some magic dust around and imagine a scenario.
Remember all those Melo-Kevin Love trade rumors that popped up around the deadline? (You know, the ones that were resoundingly denied and mocked by all parties? This is a fairytale, roll with me here.) Those (possibly imaginary) talks could be revived this summer after another year where Love has failed to make his mark and still seems on the outside of LeBron’s circle of confidence. That’s one.
Then you’ve got Kyrie Irving and the rumors that James has a “real disconnect” with his young protege. If the Cavs fail to win the title again, and with James needing a higher level of maturity and control as opposed to what Irving can provide. With the Clippers having what are reported to be chemistry issues and a very real ceiling, and with CP3’s prime not overlapping with his younger teammates, how much would a Irving-for-Paul trade make sense, especially if Paul says he wants out and LeBron decides to banish Irving?
Oh, and hey, did I mention that Wade is an expiring contract and will be a free agent this summer? Or that we still have the “if things don’t work out …” thing that LeBron said to Wade on Christmas a year ago? Or that Wade was frustrated with the Heat wanting him to take a paycut last year which fueled rumors he could leave? Or that leaving Miami to join James in Cleveland would infuriate Pat Riley to a degree nothing else would? Or that James has a player option that could clear room to make all these moves possible?
See how easy this scenario is to concoct?
It’s fun to think about, and might honestly be the only way for an Eastern Conference team to beat the Warriors, but like I said before, you just can’t really believe it’ll happen. The NBA’s not a fairytale. Well, unless you’re Stephen Curry, apparently.