The 2018 NBA free agency period is officially underway now, and it’s already been quite interesting. Before free agency even officially kicked off, the Nuggets were able to retain the services of their two marquee free agents, Nikola Jokić (five years, $148 million) and Will Barton (four years, $54 million). Additionally, Paul George spurned the Lakers, returning to OKC on a four-year deal and altering the face of this summer’s free agency landscape.
Many believe that had George signed up to offer his services to his hometown Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James would have joined him in LaLa Land. Additionally, chatter surrounding the Kawhi Leonard-to-LA situation has quieted significantly in recent days, making the pairing of LeBron and another superstar in Los Angeles a challenge. Now, King James’ plans appear as less than crystal clear. While the Lakers still seem to have an advantage, without another star to match with LeBron, the situation becomes much more intriguing for other teams vying for his services.
One such team is the Denver Nuggets, who, according to Yahoo’s Chris Mannix, are “aggressively pursuing a meeting with star free-agent forward LeBron James.” While a significant long shot to lure LeBron to the Mile High City, the team hopes to sell the superstar on his ideal fit on the roster as well as the burgeoning young talent that would surround him, making the Nuggets an excellent short-term fit.
“Denver has been in contact with James’ agent, Rich Paul, and has doggedly tried to position the team as James’ best option.” — Chris Mannix in “Source: Nuggets aggressively pursuing meeting with free agent LeBron James”
Pairing LeBron with the Joker would immediately make Denver one of the best offenses and most fun playmaking teams in the league. The Nuggets’ roster features much more outside shooting prowess than last year’s Cavaliers did as Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Barton, Trey Lyles and Juan Hernangomez would offer “The King” far better options to dish to on the perimeter and Paul Millsap offers the rugged veteran presence LeBron covets so dearly.
In addition, the Kroenke family has established a relationship with LeBron and coach Mike Malone coached the star in Cleveland as an assistant, so there would be a modicum of familiarity within the organization if LBJ elected to sign with the Nuggets.
While Denver lacks the cap flexibility to sign James outright, I’m confident they would be able to make space to bring the best basketball player in the world into the fold. The squad has a number of sizable expiring contracts that could be shed or off-loaded to teams that want to clear cap space for next summer. Burdensome contracts the team is looking to shed to avoid luxury tax implications include those of Kenneth Faried, Darrell Arthur, Wilson Chandler and possibly Mason Plumlee, according to the New York Times’ Marc Stein.
While even securing a meeting with LeBron appears to be an incredible long shot, it’s great to see the Nuggets being aggressive during the offseason yet again. After “really selling” Dwyane Wade on the team two summers ago and securing “plans” to meet with Chris Paul last year, perhaps the front office can reel in the biggest fish of them all in 2018.