The NBA is going to dominate headlines this summer. With the draft and free agency both less than a month away, the offseason is about to heat up around the league. Much of the focus of this offseason will be centered around Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James.
For the next few weeks, there will be plenty of speculation as to whether or not the 15-year veteran, who is set to be an unrestricted free agent after likely opting out of his contract, will remain with his hometown team. After a tumultuous season likely coming to an end without an NBA championship, James may be on his way out of Cleveland for the second time in his career.
According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, James leaving is looking more and more likely as free agency approaches.
Those privy to James’s thinking say that at this stage, pleading from family members appears to be the only force that could persuade him to extend his second stint with the Cavs and resist the opportunity to switch teams, as he did in 2010 and again in 2014.
James is a family man and has spent most of his life in Cleveland so there could be enough sentiment to keep him in a Cavalier jersey if that is what his family desires. However, that seems to be the only possible way the Cavaliers retain his services, which is not a great sign for the franchise.
Once midnight on July 1st strikes, every team in the league will be lining up for the 33-year old’s services. But according to reports, the four teams most commonly on his radar are the Houston Rockets, Philadelphia 76ers, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Los Angeles Lakers. However, there are also rumors that the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, and Golden State Warriors will be looked at as well.
Stein did offer some speculation as to what to look for from James during the next month:
“My best forecast at this juncture? Fixate on Chris Paul.
If Paul stays with the Rockets, Houston becomes the closest thing to a favorite on my scorecard, no matter how complicated it would be for the 65-win Rockets and their general manager, Daryl Morey, to orchestrate the requisite salary-cap gymnastics to bring James in. But don’t discount the idea that James could try to bring Paul with him to a team that can afford two superstars, such as the Lakers, because he and Paul really are that close.”
If Chris Paul and James have that sort of relationship and are dying to play together that could either benefit or kill the Lakers chances at adding the former MVP.
Nevertheless, this is the first source that we have that makes it seem like James returning to Cleveland is less than likely. With tons of cap space and their eyes set on adding franchise-changing talent, the Lakers will be at the center of any LeBron James rumors this summer.