Report: Heat, Cavs, Rockets, Knicks, Nets top LeBron's list, not Clippers

LeBron James has some thinking to do.    (USATSI)
LeBron James has some thinking to do. (USATSI)

More Offseason Analysis: Coaching changes, news | Free Agency | Draft | Rumors

ESPN reports that the Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, and Brooklyn Nets top LeBron James' list of potential free agent destinations, in that order, and that the Clippers, surprisingly, are not at the top of that list. 

As mentioned above, I'm told the Clippers are not among James' most preferred destinations. While James and Clippers point guard Chris Paul are great friends, there are concerns about the compatibility of their games. Paul is not as capable of excelling off the ball as Wade was when he adjusted to playing with James.

Beyond that, there is still the very real problem of Donald Sterling's shadow hovering over the Clippers. I was not told that this would be an issue, but as outspoken as James was about wanting Sterling out of the league, it seems implausible that he would willingly go play for the Clippers until Sterling's ouster is complete. That is not likely to happen before July 8.

via NBA - Possible landing spots for LeBron James - ESPN.

That contradicts an earlier report that James did in fact find the Clippers intriguing. The Clippers reportedly have interest too, but aren't willing to give up Blake Griffin for the best player in the world. 

It's also surprising since LA is the perfect market for him. He has big entertainment plans, and has long been interested in the industry. He even had his own cartoon show. The Clippers would give him his best friend in Chris Paul, a coach he adores in Doc Rivers, and the lifestyle he wants. So them being off the list, despite multiple indications over the past few months that they are under consideration, is weird. 

Meanwhile, the Knicks and Nets, even after the Knicks' trade of Tyson Chandler and Jose Calderon, would have to come pretty close to melting the constraints of mathematics to get room for Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James, and that's the only way James goes for that. The Nets would have to surrender all of their talent to make room for James, and have very little in the way of assets to rebuild in the future. 

The Cavs and Heat may be what it comes down to, but the Rockets possibility hangs, specifically with this idea from the report. The Rockets trade Asik and Lin to create room to sign one of Anthony and James, then do a sign-and-trade of James Harden for the other one. It's a fascinating possibility that could see Harden moved to New York or Miami. Houston is reportedly on the list of teams Carmelo Anthony intends to meet with. 

The plot thickens, as The Decision 2.0 rolls on, with Miami still the heavy favorite to retain LeBron James. 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Moore's colleagues have been known to describe him as a "maniac" in terms of his approach to covering the NBA, which he has done for CBS Sports since 2010. Moore prides himself on melding reporting,... Full Bio

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