NEWS OF THE MORNING
Are Clips willing to deal Griffin to get James? | Boeheim thinks Anthony would thrive in Chicago | Cavs still torn on who to take No. 1 | Report: Kings, Pistons talk J-Smoove swap | Report: Pelicans looking to move into first round
No. 1: Report: Clips interested in Anthony, James, but won’t trade Griffin … or would they? — LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, both of whom are on the free-agent market after their recent decisions to opt out of their contracts, are both close on a personal level with L.A. Clippers point guard Chris Paul. James and Paul have been close friends for years, while Anthony and Paul are also tight (anyone remember Paul famously toasting a future with Anthony during ‘Melo’s wedding?). The Clips are interested — like every other team in the league — in trying to nab Anthony and/or James this summer, but they won’t move Blake Griffin to make either transaction happen. Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com has more:
The Los Angeles Clippers have strong interest in pursuing LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony if they can clear the requisite salary cap space to make a maximum-level offer to the superstars, who have both elected to become free agents starting July 1.
One player they have no interest in moving, however, is forward Blake Griffin. While the Clippers would need to move significant players and money to make a run at either James or Anthony, sources told ESPN that Clippers president and coach Doc Rivers has told Griffin on numerous occasions that he considers him “untouchable” in any trade.
The Clippers have $76 million committed in salaries for next season. That figure will decrease to $71.7 million after Darren Collison, Glen Davis and Danny Granger opt out of their contracts for next season, meaning the Clippers likely would have to trade some combination of prized young center DeAndre Jordan (one year, $11.4 million), Jared Dudley (three years, $12.1 million), Matt Barnes (three years, $10.1 million), Jamal Crawford (three years, $16.3 million) or J.J. Redick (four years, $27.7 million) to facilitate a deal.
The Clippers’ discussions about making a run at James or Anthony have been internal thus far; however, sources said the team has engaged in trade discussions this spring with the Orlando Magic regarding shooting guard Arron Afflalo.
Paul is one of James’ best friends and the two have talked about playing with each other since they were in high school, when they met on the AAU and prep all-star circuits. Paul is godfather to James’ son Bryce and they were in each other’s weddings.
The Clippers have a similar interest in Anthony, who is close with both Paul and Griffin, but it would be too difficult to clear enough salary cap space to pursue both James and Anthony in tandem.
While Shelburne makes it pretty clear the Clips won’t deal Griffin for James or Anthony, that may or may not be the truth in L.A. Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times echoes that the Clips are indeed interested in LeBron and that they’d be willing to move Griffin to make a deal for him happen.
Doc Rivers, the Clippers’ president of basketball operations and coach, and his staff are doing their due diligence to make the team better and would consider moving All-Star power forward Blake Griffin along with others in a sign-and-trade deal to get James, according to the officials.
The Clippers could consider sending Griffin and Jared Dudley or Griffin and Matt Barnes to Miami to get James.
The Clippers wouldn’t mind trading DeAndre Jordan, Jamal Crawford and either Barnes or Dudley to the Heat for James, but the team knows that would most likely be hard to do.
One official said James really liked Rivers and was good friends with Clippers point guard Chris Paul.
Another official said James’ wife, Savannah, really loved Los Angeles, and that her preference would be for her husband to play for the Clippers rather than the Lakers if he decided to leave.
“The Miami Heat does not think he’s leaving,” one official said. “Miami thinks it’s a ploy by James to make the team better.”
The Clippers also haven’t ruled out making a run at Carmelo Anthony, who opted out of his contract with the New York Knicks and will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, the officials said.
Another NBA official said that Steve Ballmer, who has agreed to pay $2 billion to buy the Clippers from Donald and Shelly Sterling in a deal that isn’t official yet, would be willing to “pay the luxury tax” if he was able to acquire James or Anthony.