The Los Angeles Clippers have officially been granted an audience with the King.
The team announced it will be one of the small group of teams LeBron James will take meetings with at an undisclosed location in Northeastern Ohio with a chance to pitch the merits of joining their organization.
A team source said the meeting will not take place Thursday but will happen sometime within the next two days.
"We are perfectly positioned to engage this summer's free-agent marketplace and we have every intention of playing an active role," Clippers general manager Neil Olshey said in a statement. "A little after midnight eastern time on July 1, we contacted the representatives of several free-agent players in whom we have interest.
"We are honored to be one of the select organizations to have been invited to meet with LeBron James and his team. At that time, we intend to present the many reasons why his joining our organization is the best possible choice he could make.
"Key among those reasons is our extraordinary nucleus of players. We have a core group in place which is made up of talented players at every position, a component which would prove attractive to any free agent."
Con esto, queda claro que Olshey primero agotará las opciones para fichar a Lebron, y si al final no puede ser, se activarán los distintos planes B. Según comenta en su twitter Lisa Dillman, Olshey y Roeser serán quienes vayan a Akron. También he visto que Olshey paraliza las negociaciones con los distintos candidatos al banquillo (Casey, Del Negro) para dar prioridad absoluta a consecución de la posible llegada a L.A. de Lebron.
A todo esto, parece que en la acera de enfrente desean ver a Lebron como clipper:
I'm a Lakers fan, but I would love to see Lebron go to the Clippers. The Lakers and Clippers would become a fierce rivalry and I think the Clippers would a dangerous team in the playoffs. They had a great draft and have much better talent to surround Lebron than Cleveland did this year.
Por cierto, Lebron (y demás FA estelares) han recibido una carta de Baron Davis (está en Ruanda en un viaje benéfico):
I'm writing this from Africa, a far cry from the 24-7 media updates on what's known as the biggest and best free agency class in the history of the NBA. I can't help but think about two summers ago, when I was making the decision to stay or leave from the Warriors. I came to LA to make an impact on the city, to help change the shape of another organization. I took the road less traveled. I left a team that was one win shy of the playoffs. I left a city that I had made a home. I left fans that were amazing. All to cause change, to start over again. I came to Los Angeles, hoping to rebuild and reignite a franchise.
It takes a lot of luck, talent, money, and strong leadership to have continued success in the NBA. I can say without a doubt that we're on the right track. The franchise is moving into a younger more vibrant direction. The negative mindset is gone. I definitely don't think I need to pitch anyone on the benefits that Los Angeles has to offer. Everybody knows its one of the best places in the world. And when it comes down to it, it shouldn't be about the city anyway, [it's] about what you want to accomplish. If you truly are passionate about the game of basketball and want to accept the challenge, come join us. We have a young nucleus that has the tools to compete every night, and I can't name another franchise whose fans have kept faith and supported their team like Clipper Nation has supported us.
I have spent the past two weeks traveling in Africa and have been humbled to the utmost. I have learned a lot about myself, and what it truly means to be a part of a community working towards a common goal. My hope is that I can take what I have learned here, and apply it to my life both personally and professionally. We must never take for granted the life we have and the opportunity to work with each other to make history. On a much smaller scale, being an NBA player and the decision many of you free agents make can greatly change the path of a community and a franchise.
As people, it is in our DNA to want to be individuals amongst a group, to be different than the person next to us. So what we offer is the chance to create a new starting point. Success here, in one of the [world's] largest media markets, will mean you have everything at your fingertips. It's no secret that this franchise has faced many obstacles, but the past doesn't have to determine the future. No matter what decision you make, someone won't like it. You have an opportunity to write a new story in the city of Los Angeles. Our organization and community [are] ready and willing to embrace more talent. Great opportunities exist amongst many teams, but here you aren't just continuing a legacy, you have the opportunity to create your own.
D.J. Foster en ESPN habla de Olshey:
Sometime in the next few days, Los Angeles Clippers general manager Neil Olshey will make a convincing pitch to LeBron James.
He'll tell LeBron to look at all the Clippers' young, talented players. He'll tell LeBron that Blake Griffin projects to be better than anyone he's ever played with. He'll tell LeBron that he can become a global icon under the bright lights of Los Angeles.
The Clippers may not make a big splash come July 1, but that was never really the expected outcome in the first place. While everyone else had their heads in the clouds conjuring up images of different superstars in Clippers uniforms, Olshey stayed grounded and very quietly rebuilt the team behind the guise of the looming free-agency period.
In a sense, LeBron James has served as the world's greatest decoy.
Typically, things tend to get ugly when you trade your best player for cash. Marcus Camby is no Wayne Gretzky, but he was the best player for the Clippers last season and was moved for pocket change. Al Thornton and Sebastian Telfair, decent but not spectacular role players, were moved for even less. In normal circumstances, there would be absolute outrage; instead, every cap-cutting move was applauded because the Clippers were punching their ticket to the great free-agency bonanza of 2010. Never mind that landing LeBron -- or most of the other big stars -- was always unrealistic. That hardly seemed to matter, because the floundering franchise had finally located some direction.
With the draft completed, it's become clearer that the Clippers are no longer entrenched in win-now mode and truly are rebuilding. After drafting a raw 19-year-old talent in Al-Farouq Aminu and trading for one-and-done Kentucky guard Eric Bledsoe, the Clippers have indicated through their actions that they're willing to be patient for their core to develop. The youth infusion has been quiet but definitely real six of the eight players on the Clippers' roster are 21 years old or younger. After garnering poor results from their last big foray into free agency with Baron Davis, the team has seemingly shifted priorities to the development of the 21-and-under club.
The Clippers likely will retain that same youth-based focus throughout the summer. Their pitches to the big free agents will be out of pure obligation more than anything else. Instead of going big, they'll likely maintain a frugal approach to spending by bringing in players who are sure not to endanger the development of their young core.
But what of that precious cap room the Clippers worked so hard to acquire? In today's NBA, unused cap room is no longer a waste, but instead a valuable asset. The aforementioned Marcus Camby and Rasual Butler were both cap casualties that the Clippers acquired for little more than second-round draft pick swaps. Washington recently picked up Kirk Hinrich and a first-round pick from Chicago and gave up nothing in return. The possibilities with cap room in a cash-starved league are seemingly endless.
The Clippers' adopted formula appears to be based on patience and the slow acquisition of assets, and as the Oklahoma City Thunder and GM Sam Presti have proven, it's been shown to work for teams that may not be able to attract the biggest free agents due to small-market or ownership concerns.
There are still plenty of holes to be filled this offseason, but the days of the Clippers' grabbing whatever they could get their hands on seem to be long gone. Maybe it's not quite fit for a king, but the 21-and-under club should prove to be exclusive nonetheless.