Three reasons why LeBron James joining Warriors is more pipe dream than plausibility

We can be calm and rational about this whole LeBron James-to-the-Warriors thing, right? Nah, we're probably already past that point.

Three reasons why LeBron James joining Warriors is more pipe dream than plausibility

Three reasons why LeBron James joining Warriors is more pipe dream than plausibility

The wildfire started after ESPN's Chris Haynes reported early Thursday morning that James could meet with the Warriors this summer during free agency if Golden State is able to create a slot for a max salary. Twitter lit up like a Christmas tree, and the usual ranting and raving came from the professional loud people.

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But here's what the report actually said if you break it down: the Warriors could secure a sit-down conversation with James if they had a max salary available for him, and James would listen out of "respect for the Warriors' winning culture," per Haynes. All of that information is extremely far from a reality in which James is wearing a Warriors jersey.

Kevin Durant joining the Warriors sounded insane ahead of the summer of 2016, but James making a similar move is even more improbable. Here's why ...


LeBron James to the Warriors would be complicated financially


Unlike when the Warriors signed Durant in 2016, the Warriors don't have the benefits of a huge salary cap increase along with Stephen Curry on the biggest bargain contract in the NBA. James has remained steadfast in his desire to obtain a max salary, so there won't be any discounts. There are some avenues for the Warriors to reach James' desired number, but it wouldn't be easy.

ESPN's Bobby Marks notes the most realistic path for James to head west is by following the Chris Paul model: tell the Cavs he plans to leave, opt into the final year of his contract ($35.7 million for 2018-19) and operate under the assumption Cleveland will send him to the Warriors for multiple pieces once James waives his no-trade clause. Golden State would have to trade back valuable assets — Klay Thompson or Draymond Green would likely be involved, plus possible draft picks — but would, at the very least, hold a core of Durant, Curry and James, which is just bonkers.

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In this scenario, there is also the outside chance of a sign-and-trade deal that would cause a larger disruption to the Warriors' roster, and simply moving other players off the books would ruin Golden State's depth.

This isn't jumping over a gap in the map to reach the flag like "Super Mario Bros." This is like going back through every level of "Banjo-Kazooie" looking for the Jinjos you haven't found yet. Put a less nerdy way, bringing James' immense talents to Oakland, Calif., would be a challenge.


LeBron James to the Warriors might not make much basketball sense


As you can see from the above scenarios, the Warriors would remain a dominant team with James in the starting lineup but also lose contributors who have made them the annual title favorites.

Golden State is coming off a championship season, and Steve Kerr's squad didn't meet much resistance throughout the 2017 playoffs. The Warriors currently have the best net rating (plus-9.6) and offensive rating (113.4) in the NBA, plus a top-10 defensive rating (103.8). They lead the league in assist percentage (70.2) and true shooting percentage (61.1) by sizable margins. This is a finely tuned machine and clearly the team to beat. How much better would James really make them?

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There is also the clash of styles. James has always been the focal point of the offense throughout his career, and this season has been no different. He's a top-10 player in terms of usage percentage (30.9) and touches per game (88.0). James enjoys surveying the floor and operating in isolation. He's second in the league behind only James Harden in isolation possessions per game (6.4). The Cavs make the fourth-lowest number of passes per game (282.2), while the Warriors' offense, predicated on movement to force defenders into undesirable switches, move the ball at a top-five rate (324.8). Either James or the Warriors would have to adjust.

Of course, the other side of the argument is if you can get LeBron, you always get LeBron. He's one of the greatest players ever, and he is still producing at an MVP level.

However, the Warriors are in the unique position to pass on James if they so choose because they just don't need him to win championships. That statement in itself shows just how powerful they have become.


LeBron James to the Warriors ... seriously, the Warriors?


There are the on-court and off-court issues, and then there's this: come on, man. This whole thing happening? Just, no. Stop it. James will have options when he enters free agency this summer, but this plan seems too far-fetched, even by NBA standards.

James values rings as much as anyone, so sure, maybe he will keep it all on the table and take every single call. But this feels much more like a power move to force the hand of the Cavs, Lakers or any other team looking to sign him this offseason.

Then again, there is this tweet from 2015. What does it all mean?! James to the Warriors confirmed!


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