OAKLAND — No, the Warriors probably won’t trade for LeBron James before the NBA trade deadline on Thursday.
But will they sign him during the offseason?
Lots of players want to join the Warriors party, including James. According to ESPN’s Chris Haynes, James — who can opt out of his contract after this season — is open to meeting with the Warriors and signing with them during the offseason if they create enough cap space to give him a max contract.
If this report is true and if the Warriors are interested in James, this qualifies as big news.
But, as currently constructed, the Warriors don’t have enough cap space to sign James in the summer. They would have to trade shooting guard Klay Thompson or power forward Draymond Green to make room for James.
The Warriors have given no signals they intend to pursue James, according to ESPN. But things could change.
Kevin Durant had one thing to say about this theoretical deal after practice on Thursday.
“Bull----,” he said. And then he repeated his analysis. “Bull----. But, in this league, just like a couple years ago, me coming here, nobody would have thought that. There’s a part of me as a basketball player that’s like, ‘Let’s just worry about basketball.’ Then, on the other side, we know this is a business as well. A lot of crazy things have happened since I’ve been in the league. In the future, there will be even crazier things that will happen. I just want people to enjoy what really goes on between the lines.
“LeBron James is the biggest name in basketball. For the last two years, everybody has been wondering where he’s going and if he’s unhappy in Cleveland, so I understand that part. It’s fun to see that suspense. But we’re getting away from the real game. We’re getting away from what really matters.
“As a pure basketball player, as a pure fan of the game, it’s pretty sickening.”
Power forward David West was less philosophical about the James rumor.
“He has to get No. 23 from Draymond,” West said.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr avoided the topic entirely.
“Do you want me to get my checkbook out?” Kerr asked facetiously. “I could make it out to Adam Silver or the NBA. You know that’s illegal (to talk about players under contract with other teams). I’m not answering.”
Kerr preferred to talk about the Warriors’ immediate future, and the impending trade deadline in particular.
“I don’t really anticipate doing anything,” he said.
“What about adding a shooter to your bench?” a reporter asked. The Warriors’ bench ranks last in the NBA in 3-pointers per game, and 26th in three-point percentage. One of the team’s only weaknesses.
“I think that will come around,” Kerr said. “I think shots will go. Some of it is just the way our team is built. We’re pretty top-heavy with our 3-point shooting. But Nick (Young) has shot a good percentage. I haven’t given him huge minutes. I know Patrick (McCaw) and Andre (Iguodala) can shoot it better. So I think some of that will come around. But numbers like that, they’re based more on roster configuration than anything. Doesn’t concern me at all.”
Young is shooting 38.6 percent from 3-point range, but is scoring only 6.6 points per game. McCaw is shooting a below-average 25 percent from 3-point range. And Iguodala is shooting a career-low 22.7 percent.
“It’s an interesting dynamic with our team,” Warriors general manager Bob Myers said, “because we have four high-caliber players that are pretty much always on the floor in some capacity.
“We don’t traditionally have a bench unit, because Klay usually is out there with our bench. Seen Draymond out there with our bench. Sometimes, that makes it more difficult on guys that might be able to have a larger role. When you’re out there with two All-Stars every time you go out there, you may defer. It may lead to less opportunities for you. So, it’s a little unique.
“But I think overall, we have to judge our team based on the total record, and also the cohesiveness of our team matters to us. The continuity matters to us. It may matter differently to other organizations, but we have guys who have been here. And probably most importantly, have shown in the bigger moments, meaning the playoffs, they can produce.
“Not that the regular season doesn’t matter. It does matter. But to have guys that we know well, that know each other well, we have to keep an eye on that as well.”
“I’d love to be better at a lot of things, but it’s not possible. We’re pretty darn good with what we have and with what we’re facing. And I don’t want to diminish areas we need to improve in. There are some. We want to shoot better. We want to rebound better. But overall, I can’t be too critical. I don’t have to go out there and play.
“From my standpoint, they’re doing a great job, the coach is doing a great job. And again, it does come back to what our record is and where we’re positioned. Overall, we’ve got to feel good about that.”
And, they’ve got to feel good about James, however that turns out.
The Warriors may never pursue him, but it’s nice to know he wants to be pursued.