The Clippers, like so many NBA teams, have had discussions about a contingency plan on how to acquire LeBron James after the All-Star forward informed the Miami Heat on Tuesday that he was opting out of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
But just like all those NBA teams that would like to get James, the Clippers also believe that he’ll re-sign with the Heat.
That was the thinking of several NBA officials who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
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.
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.
James, who had two years and about $42.7 million left on his contract before exercising his early termination option, can get a maximum five-year deal worth $127.7 million from the Heat.
“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.”
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.
But in the end, the Clippers expect James to return to the Heat.