LeBron James is holding out hope that he can team with Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul for at least one season before they retire, as he told Howard Beck of Bleacher Report. James, 31, and Wade, 34, can hit free agency this summer, but the 30-year-old Paul’s locked in with the Clippers through next season and Anthony, 31, doesn’t have an opt-out in his deal until the summer of 2018.
“I really hope that, before our career is over, we can all play together,” James said to Beck just before the All-Star break last month in comments that Beck kept under wraps until today (Twitter link). “At least one, maybe one or two seasons — me, Melo, D-Wade, CP — we can get a year in. I would actually take a pay cut to do that.”
Each is probably powerful enough to force a trade, with most such chatter surrounding Anthony, who has a no-trade clause that he’s been reluctant to consider waiving. Rumors about a three-team deal involving the Knicks, Celtics and Cavaliers emerged before the trade deadline this year, but it never appeared as though Anthony was close to joining James in Cleveland. Anthony once more reiterated his commitment to the Knicks today, as Marc Berman of the New York Post relays.
“I know the reason why I stuck it out,’’ Anthony said. “People that really understand it know why I’m sticking it out. It’s odd to question my loyalty at this point in time, especially when you showed and I’ve showed time and time again my loyalty to not just the organization, but New York and vice versa.”
Still, commitments change. That was the case with Anthony and the Nuggets, a team ‘Melo believed in strongly enough in 2006 to resist what James admits were veiled overtures meant to convince Anthony to sign a shorter extension that would allow him to become a free agent in 2010, just as James and Wade did, as Beck details. That was the summer that James and Wade teamed up on the Heat while Anthony and Paul remained under contract in Denver and New Orleans, respectively.
Anthony told Beck in January that he was disappointed that the Pistons passed him up with the second overall pick in 2003, saying that he’d been told Detroit would take him. It’s not clear who told Anthony that the Pistons would draft him instead of Darko Milicic, the center the Pistons fatefully selected when the time came. Regardless, the bond between James, Anthony, Wade and Paul is strong, and it’s made an impression on Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski, who’s mentored all of them with the USA Basketball program.
“I think they love one another,” Krzyzewski said. “It’s so damn genuine, and it’s so cool to see. … They have each others’ back, on everything.”
Do you think James, Wade, Anthony and Paul will all play together on an NBA team at some point? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.