2014 NBA Draft: Teams That Will Shape Strategy Around Free-Agent Stars

David DanielsSenior Writer IJune 26, 2014

CLEVELAND - DECEMBER 30:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts during the game against the Atlanta Hawks at Quicken Loans Arena on December 30, 2009 in Cleveland, Ohio.  The Cavs won 106-101.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2009 NBAE (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Two members of the 2003 NBA draft class will influence the 2014 draft, which fittingly features the best class since then.

These members are LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.

In hopes of acquiring one, if not both players, here are three teams that rewrote their draft blueprint when the two superstars opted out.


LAS VEGAS - AUGUST 22: Kobe Bryant #10, LeBron James #6 and Carmelo Anthony #15 of the USA Men's Senior National Team laugh on the bench against Venezuela during the first round of the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship on August 22, 2007 at the Thomas and M
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Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers will start draft night with the No. 7 overall pick. But according to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, if it's up to Lakers, they'll never be on the clock—at least in the first round.

The Lakers have been trying in recent days to package the No. 7 overall pick in Thursday's draft with the expiring contract of Steve Nash (who's owed $9.7 million next season) to free up enough room to offer James and Anthony at least $16 million each next season to join forces with Kobe Bryant.

If Los Angeles goes this route, it's insane—an admirable-sort-of insane, but still insane. Throwing away the seventh overall pick in the best draft this decade to keep the pipe dream of pairing James and Anthony with Bryant is foolish.

The Lakers need to win now, due to a 35-year-old overpaid Bryant. But there are less risky ways to do it, such as drafting the most pro-ready player who falls to them.


Miami Heat

ESPN's Chad Ford reported that James opting out has motivated Miami to move up in the draft to select Shabazz Napier. 

This is a phenomenal idea. At 22 years old and having played four years in college, Napier is one of the most pro-ready players in the class. His ability to serve as a spot-up shooter, having nailed 40.5 percent of his threes this year, also makes him a perfect fit for the Heat.

The cherry on top is that James is a fan.

However, Miami acquiring Napier is comparably pipe dream-ish to the Lakers acquiring James and Anthony. Napier won't fall to 26th overall. And the only "asset" it has Norris Cole.


Feb 24, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (left) looks over at Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (right) as Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott (center) looks on during the second half at the American Airlines A

Cleveland Cavaliers

Cleveland wants its "hometown" hero back.

It, like Los Angeles, wants to net James and Anthony. But James is obviously target No. 1, and the Cavaliers' best chance to impress him is to significantly improve its roster on draft night. The quickest way to do that could be trading down for a veteran.

ESPN's Jeff Goodman and Ford reported that the Philadelphia 76ers have offered the No. 3 pick and Thaddeus Young for the No. 1 overall selection. The Utah Jazz have offered Derrick Favors and the No. 5 overall pick, and the Orlando Magic have offered Arron Afflalo, the No. 4 and No. 12. Cleveland is most interested in the Magic's.

But this is another lost cause. It will take more than a couple rookies and Afflalo to convince James to leave a team that he led to four straight NBA Finals berths.


David Daniels is a columnist at Bleacher Report. He tweets, too.