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Friday BirdFeed: LeBron goes to Cleveland, Pelicans exploring less desirable options

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Free agency is about to pick up.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James is Coming Home

Rather than let a reporter scoop his decision, LeBron James revealed it himself with the help of Lee Jenkins at SI. That letter in the link is really incredible, I recommend that you read it.

Bosh to Houston

Chris Bosh has long been rumored to go to Houston if LeBron left Miami. It sounds like the wheels are in motion. Important to note that the Rockets are going to have to move and/or renounce every player beyond James Harden, Dwight Howard, and the current cap hold of Chandler Parsons to get close to a "max offer" up for Chris Bosh. Details of that are spelled out here. The most Houston can offer (again assuming every single player under contract is moved outside of Harden and Howard) is $19.5M. Speaking of clearing out contracts...

Worst Case Scenario?

I cannot say I am thrilled about this proposition. If the Pelicans cannot create a three team trade and send out enough salary to match Asik's incoming salary waiving and stretching Austin Rivers sounds like the "In case of fire, break glass" option. Austin's last year of his rookie contract is a team option, meaning they would only stretch this current year of his contract. Let's take a look.

Pos Age 2014-2015 2015-2016 2016-2017
Eric Gordon SG 26 $14,898,938 $15,514,031
Jrue Holiday PG 24 $10,404,495 $11,095,507 $11,786,518
Tyreke Evans SG 25 $11,265,416 $10,734,586 $10,203,755
Ryan Anderson PF 26 $8,491,500 $8,500,000
Omer Asik C 28 $8,374,646
Anthony Davis PF/C 21 $5,607,240 $7,070,730
Austin Rivers PG 22 $813,280 $813,280 $813,280
Alexis Ajinca C 26 $981,084
CAP HOLD $507,336
CAP HOLD $507,336
CAP HOLD $507,336
CAP HOLD $507,336
Total $62,865,943 $53,728,134 $22,803,553
Room Exception $2,732,000 $2,854,940

That would be the extent of what the Pelicans would have to work with. It is reasonable to expect they could bring in James Southerland, Luke Babbitt, Jeff Withey, and even Darius Miller back on minimum contracts. However, Babbitt and Withey must first clear waivers to make that happen.

This is a possible avenue the Pelicans have available to them if necessary, but it is hardly desirable. In addition to losing Rivers they would lose the Bird Rights to Jason Smith, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Brian Roberts. The hope is that a sign and trade could be worked out to create a balanced three team trade (as outlined here and here). Doing so would preserve Bird Rights, the Mid-Level Exception, and the Bi-Annual Exception.

If this route ends up the one the Pelicans are forced to take (and considering what they lose, I believe it is a last resort) the Pelicans are going to be incredibly dependent on just seven players with enormous question marks on the wing.

Expect the free agency market to kick into high gear over the next couple of days.