Cavs, Hawks, Lakers Eye LeBron-‘Melo Pairing

The Hawks, Cavs and Lakers are considering clearing the cap space necessary to double up on marquee free agent signings this summer and ink both LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, report Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein of James’ decision to opt out of his contract and hit free agency has spurred the thinking of the Hawks and Cavs, while the Lakers have been considering this scenario for a while, according to the ESPN scribes.

James timed his opt-out nearly a week ahead of his June 30th deadline to do so to give potential suitors a better chance to make the necessary cap-clearing moves, sources tell Windhorst and Stein. He also plotted the timing to give the Heat a chance to make moves of their own, Windhorst and Stein add. The Heat have given at least some thought to recruiting Anthony to join James in Miami.

The Lakers probably possess the easiest path to the requisite cap space with about $34MM in commitments for next season and Nick Young‘s player option, which he appears likely to decline. They’ve been linked to trades in which they’d give up Steve Nash and the No. 7 overall pick, and they’ve entered those discussions with clearing cap space in mind, as Stein and colleague Ramona Shelburne wrote earlier today.

The Cavs don’t have much more in guaranteed salary, with just about $36MM, and they believe they can clear about $30MM in space under the projected $63.2MM cap without giving up Kyrie Irving or the No. 1 overall pick. The Hawks have a little more than $47MM tied up for next year, and they’re reluctant to tear apart their roster, according to Windhorst and Stein, in spite of a report earlier this morning that they were pondering a run at Anthony.

In any case, Cleveland, Atlanta and the Lakers all face a tight squeeze if they hope to accommodate both James and Anthony, who can command combined maximum salaries of roughly $42.5MM. Still, there’s been talk that each would be willing to take a discount, and, as Windhorst and Stein note, James and Anthony will likely communicate during free agency.

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