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LeBron is about to be a free agent. So we're in for what should be a fun few weeks of ESPN chronicling every LeBron thought, action and bowel movement as he gets ready for the "Decision Part II".

While it will certainly get annoying, there is no questioning how big a decision this is for the NBA. LeBron is one of the few guys who can sway the entire landscape of the league by simply changing teams.

And of course that means that teams are lining up to try and sign him. Miami, Cleveland, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Atlanta and the Lakers are all reportedly trying to shed as much salary as they can to position themselves for a shot at LBJ. Only in the Lakers case, they already have the money to sign James to a max level deal. And if they could find a taker for Steve Nash and his $9.7 million expiring contract, they'd have enough money to bring in both James AND Carmelo Anthony on near-max deals to play with Kobe.

And that's exactly what they're trying to do.

And they're apparently willing to dump the seventh overall pick to make it happen (moving the pick would also be important for shedding salary as the pick has a cap hold of about $3 million). Here's Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein's ESPN piece detailing their plan.

In addition to the Miami Heat's obvious desire to retain James by any means necessary and pursue Anthony if he urges them to do so, sources told ESPN.com on Tuesday that the Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks are among the teams already mulling potential trades that designed to clear enough cap space to be able to recruit the two stars and close friends.

The Los Angeles Lakers, meanwhile, had begun exploring such machinations even before the opt outs of James and Anthony had become known, according to ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne.

Shelburne reports that the Lakers have been trying in recent days to package the No. 7 overall pick in Thursday's draft with the expiring contract of Steve Nash (who's owed $9.7 million next season) to free up enough room to offer James and Anthony at least $16 million each next season to join forces with Kobe Bryant.

Ok, so the price of the #7 pick is apparently $9.7 million to any team that can absorb Nash's deal without sending any salary back.

You know, like the Boston Celtics.

While the Cs are right around the projected salary cap, they have the $10.3 million trade exception from the Paul Pierce deal that is about to expire in mid-July. That exception would perfectly fit Nash's salary, allowing for a clean swap of Nash/#7 pick for the cap space LA so badly covets.

The only issue is that the Lakers can't technically trade whoever they pick until one month after the draft (July 26th) because they already dealt their 2015 pick to the Suns (for Nash, ironically enough), and you can't go two consecutive years without a first round pick due to the Stepien rule.

Considering the exception expires July 12th, the deal's off, right?

Wrong. All the Celtics would need to do is give LA one of their first round picks in either 2014 or 2015 to allow the deal to happen draft night. It obviously wouldn't be the sixth pick this year, but it could be either the 17th pick in 2014, or either of the Celtics picks in 2015. If LA is counting every dollar to give LeBron and Carmelo as much money as they can, it makes more sense for it to be a 2015 pick. And the Celtics are not likely to give up their own pick considering they may in fact be pretty bad next year. So the pick that makes the most sense is the Clippers 2015 pick.

By having a 2015 pick at their disposal, LA would also open themselves up to be able to trade their 2016 pick again, something they cannot currently do because they do not own a 2015 1st rounder. So that pick has a little additional value to them as they look to add even more to the Kobe/LeBron/Melo trio. The Lakers would also create a $9.7 million trade exception by making this deal with Boston (they acquire the exception basically), meaning they could dangle that while trying to add a fourth piece, either for a player under contract or by working out a sign-and-trade. So while the Lakers are giving up a great pick, they'd be acquiring the following:

- 2015 1st rounder
- $9.7 million trade exception
- Enough cap space to create a super team.

Meanwhile, the Celtics would be turning a late 2015 1st rounder into the seventh overall pick in the draft simply for agreeing to pay Nash's salary for one year.

This is what we call a win, win -- right?

Well there are still a few obstacles.

First of all, teams under the cap will be lining up to take that pick off the Lakers hands. However, the Celtics have the advantage of offering up several different first round picks over the next two seasons to make the deal work, while a lot of other teams do not have that flexibility. They also have the massive trade exception that opens new doors for LA to make another move after this. So while it would certainly be a bidding war, the Cs have the pieces to make it work.

Secondly, there's the issue of helping the Lakers form a super team. Something that many Celtics fans would have a huge problem with. After all, LA is one title away behind the Celtics, and being the team directly responsible for facilitating a potential Lakers dynasty would leave a sour taste in fans' mouths. And for good reason.

So the question becomes, would you pull the trigger? You get the #7 pick for a late first rounder -- a massive win in terms of value added. But you also allow LeBron, Carmelo and Kobe to join forces.

I say yes. Mainly because I care more about the Celtics than I do rooting against the Lakers. Yes, I'd root against this team as hard as I could, but seeing the Celtics add a Julius Randle/Noah Vonleh/Marcus Smart type player for basically nothing would be worth it to me.

I'm also not quite sure how a Kobe/Melo/LeBron trio would work with only one basketball and no big man. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure veterans would flock to play there, and the Lakers could possibly use the exception to snag a decent big, but I'm not sure that trio fits all that well.

So I say yes. If this scenario somehow presents itself, I'm in.

How about you?




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Michael Dyer 6/24/2014 01:12:00 PM Edit
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