What does LeBron James owe the city of Cleveland? “LeBron James owes nobody anything. Nobody. When my mother told me I don’t owe her anything, from that point in time, I don’t owe anybody anything. But what I will give to the city of Cleveland is passion, commitment, and inspiration. As long as I put that jersey on, that’s what I represent. That’s why I’m there—to inspire that city. But I don’t owe anybody anything.”
More Rumors in this Storyline
In many ways, the Cavs’ positioning is remarkable, given James’ likely free agency next summer and the overwhelming view from outside the organization that things were coming apart at the seams in the offseason. “I think he loves it here,” said Wade, who along with James and new general manager Koby Altman agreed to interviews with cleveland.com to preview the Cavs’ 2017-18 season, which begins Tuesday against the Boston Celtics. “I could see his mood and being around these guys and everyone that’s here,” Wade continued. “Obviously we’ve gotta win ball games, everything’s gotta go right and we gotta stay together to continue to have that mood, but right now he’s in a great place.”
“I was never frustrated throughout the summer,” James said. “I don’t know where those reports came from. I was enjoying my summer with my family. So, I felt the organization was going to do what’s best for the organization. That’s their job, so, I wasn’t bothered at all.”
Well, OK then, LaVar. But there’s just one problem: LeBron plays for the Cavaliers. Not for long, according to LaVar. He’s convinced LeBron will join Lonzo in Los Angeles next season: “I know it’s gonna happen,” Ball said. “Let’s just keep it real on the business aspect. [LeBron] is one of the best players probably, over Jordan … but the fact is he hasn’t won enough. You been to the Finals too many times and haven’t won enough. “But the other thing that makes you better is if you do a three-peat and you won for three different teams. You went to Miami and won. You went to Cleveland and won. Now come to L.A. and win, and guess what? Now you’re the greatest player ever if you win two or three in a row.
Reiter then followed up with the question on everyone’s mind: If LeBron comes to L.A. to join Lonzo, whose team will it be? “Whose team is it? Man, everybody know whose team it is — it’s Lonzo Ball’s team! LeBron’s coming over here to join us. We ain’t going over there to join him! If you come to my house, and you need somewhere to stay — it ain’t your house because you came here to stay. It’s my house!”
Speculation says LeBron James leaves Cleveland after this season. Former Post columnist Peter Vecsey wrote James “unequivocally” will bolt for the Lakers. “I think he leaves and he goes somewhere and he can always point back to, ‘Guys, I came back and gave you everything I have. We won a title but now I have to move on. You traded one of our top players …’” said one rival executive. “And if they have success, it’s a whole other story.”
LeBron James said he remains interested in finishing his career in Cleveland but will not make any commitments or discuss his 2018 free agency during the season.
“[My feelings on Cleveland] haven’t changed, that’s why I sit here today still in this uniform, still ready to lead this franchise to a championship,” James said. “Any time I’m able to be a free agent or my contract is ending, I’ll approach that when the summer comes. I don’t ever cheat my teammates or cheat the fans or talk about free agency all year long because I’m not going to give energy to something I can handle in the summertime when I should be focused on what I’m doing on a day-to-day basis to help this franchise compete for a championship.”
“At the end of the day, I have a contract and I will fill out that obligation as I’ve always done,” James said. “If you know me, I’ve always handled it in the most businesslike way. And I will do that with my team and I will do that in the summertime as we always have.”
LeBron James said his previously stated intentions to finish his career with the Cavaliers haven’t changed, though he would make his decision on his future after this season. “It hasn’t changed,” James said, when asked. He also nodded when asked if he intended to finish his career in Cleveland.
Lopez’s pending free agency and the Lakers’ known interest in using every cent of their cap space to lure LeBron James and Paul George next summer has made Lopez something of an afterthought compared to the buzz around Ball and factors beyond this season. “I’ve definitely noticed it,” Lopez said. “There’s lots of reasons obviously for that excitement, no question. But I’m a super unassuming guy myself, so I’m all right with that.”
Accordingly, I’m publicly terminating the pandemic of speculation surrounding LeBron James’ playing plans past this season. For months, many in the media declared or composed presumption the Lakers would be the beneficiaries of his talents when he became a free agent July 1, 2018. I’m eradicating all conjecture and uncertainty! I’m comfortable now in stating unequivocally, LeBron will leave the Cavaliers a second time and join the Lakers, and return the team to LA Lore status.
Multiple league sources suggested to ESPN that a major motivating factor in the Lakers’ signing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to a one-year, $18 million deal this offseason was because Caldwell-Pope is repped by Rich Paul, the same agent as James. Now the Lakers can spend a year communicating with Paul, showing him how they run their organization, sharing meals, etc., and it will all be protected under the Caldwell-Pope prism, even if it could prove influential as to what James ultimately decides to do. As for teams being even more covert in their preemptive pursuit of James, a league source familiar with James’ past free agencies said more teams would view it as a “waste of time” because James is known for wanting to have the control rather than be wooed.
Cavs owner Dan Gilbert hired a private law firm to investigate whether Miami Heat president Pat Riley tampered to bring James to South Beach in 2010. The NBA dismissed Gilbert’s claim and absolved the Heat. If James does go somewhere else next summer, you have to wonder if Gilbert will choose to look into tampering once again. Even beyond James’ upcoming situation, anytime you hear of a multimillion-dollar deal agreed upon at 9:01 p.m. PT when free agency opens up, tampering will be questioned. Anytime a trade comes out of nowhere, tampering will be questioned. Said one assistant coach to ESPN: “I don’t know if it will ever stop.”
Westbrook’s availability may be the most fleeting. Whispers around the NBA suggest James would love to team up with the explosive guard. How would teams defend two triple-double powerhouses like James and Westbrook? On most nights, they don’t… That said, when asked, various NBA executives believe Westbrook will eventually sign his deal with the Thunder.
Julius Erving: “So Lakers, I go back to Shaq when he left Orlando. He wanted to be in movies. There’s something there that’s better to be a part of while you’re playing, so there would be an easier transition after you get out. I could buy that. “I’ve gotten a couple calls from shows where LeBron is an executive producer or show financier, so maybe here in California, it’s a part of that in playing his last few there sets it up.”
At the top of the Lakers’ wish list has to be LeBron James, as the four-time MVP has reached the NBA Finals the last seven seasons and reports around the league suggest that James could be interested in signing with Los Angeles. If the Lakers are able to convince James to make the move then he will likely be involved in the recruiting process to get another star to join him, and according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, Westbrook could be his first choice: Whispers around the NBA suggest James would love to team up with the explosive guard.
LaVar spoke with ClutchPoints this week to talk about the family’s new show on Facebook along with a few other few other topics including LeBron James potentially coming to the Los Angeles Lakers next year and whether he’d be a good fit playing alongside his son, Lonzo Ball. “Let me tell you this, it would be a great fit, and LeBron is coming to L.A,” LaVar told ClutchPoints. “What’s in Cleveland? You want to be a superstar, man. Superstar franchise. “It’s going to be like this, and I’m talking about reality. He’s going to say, ‘You know what? I went to Miami. Won a championship. Brought one back to my home town. I’m the only one to go to three different places and bring a championship.’
Multiple sources told me that Gilbert is operating under the assumption that LeBron will opt out of his contract next summer and leave Cleveland. So Gilbert and Altman targeted Irving trade packages that set up the franchise for the post-LeBron era, rather than the instant-gratification deals they’ve made over the past three years (e.g., trading first-rounders for Channing Frye or Kyle Korver).
A front-office executive from another team inquiring about Irving told me that knowing LeBron was staying in Cleveland would have changed what the Cavs asked for in return for Kyrie. Though a wide range of league sources believe LeBron is LeGone, it’s not certain. Regardless, Cleveland doesn’t want to be caught flat-footed.
Kevin Durant thinks LeBron James will stay with the Cavs past this season. Durant’s word isn’t James’ bond, but that’s nonetheless comforting for Cleveland fans who are waiting to see if arguably the biggest trade in Cavaliers’ history grows even larger, falls apart, or is approved as is by 10 a.m. on Thursday.
“I personally always said he was staying,” Durant told Bill Simmons, who argued James would leave the Cavs for Los Angeles. “I told him this,” Durant said. “That’s me. I feel like he’s going to end it in Cleveland. That’s his crib now. He run it and he gonna turn it into something mega when he’s done. He’s going to do something.”
Boston was forthright about the injury in talks with Cleveland before the teams agreed to a trade on Aug. 22, sources say, but Cleveland’s doctors may come to a different conclusion about Thomas’ prognosis for the coming season — the last before LeBron James enters free agency as a flight risk again. If recovery from various hip ailments, including a bone bruise, does not proceed smoothly, there is at least a slight chance Thomas would miss most of the 2017-18 season, sources say. (Thomas disagrees.)
Chris Broussard: “While the organization is doing their due diligence and being wise in planning for a future without LeBron, I know there are people within that organization that still think he’s not leaving,” Broussard said.
Chris Broussard: “They think this is all just a bunch of drama and talk, and we all know LeBron likes drama. So, again, we don’t know. But if I had to make a pick, I would say he does stay in Cleveland. I wouldn’t bet my house on it, but if you put a gun to my head, I’d predict that he stays in Cleveland. But at this point, I don’t think LeBron knows what he’s going to do. We know that this has been his M.O. for the last several years. Even when he went back to Cleveland from Miami, it was on a short-term deal. He wants to keep to his options open for various reasons – to keep Dan Gilbert on edge, to keep [the front office] trying to make the team better and just for other personal reasons. LeBron likes playing in this situation. I think that’s his M.O. and I don’t think we should assume that he’s definitely leaving Cleveland because he won’t commit there long-term.”
Chris Broussard: “However, there is reason to believe that he would leave. Heading into the draft, we know that Cleveland had a deal on the table where they could’ve gotten Eric Bledsoe and Paul George for Kyrie Irving in a three-team deal [with the Phoenix Suns and Indiana Pacers]. Dan Gilbert went to LeBron and wanted him to sign long-term. He said, ‘I’ll do the deal if you sign long-term.’ And I’m told that Paul George was willing to [opt-in] to the final year of his contract. He wasn’t ready to commit long-term, but he told Cleveland, ‘Look, if you do this, I’ll pick up my option,’ so he would’ve been there for two years. And LeBron, still, did not commit long-term. Now, again, I’m not saying this means he is definitely gone, but it’s certainly a red-flag.”
Chris Broussard: The fact is, LeBron’s group keeps things very close to the vest. If anybody knows ‘where he’s going,’ it would be his wife, his agent Rich Paul, his business manager Maverick Carter, maybe his associate Randy Mims and maybe his PR guy Adam Mendelsohn, but nobody else. And those people aren’t talking. But again, I don’t think LeBron knows where he’s going yet; I think he’s keeping his options open.
Chris Broussard: “I think if LeBron James leaves Cleveland and it’s all about winning and where he can win the most championships then I think the best move for him would be to go to San Antonio,” Broussard said. “If it’s just about winning – not about wanting to be in LA or maximizing his business opportunities or wanting to be in a glamour market or wanting to go play with his friend Chris Paul or whoever – then he should go to San Antonio.
Chris Broussard: “And with the Lakers, there are so many questions. Let’s see what Lonzo Ball is. Let’s see what Brandon Ingram is. Let’s see what Paul George is willing to do. I don’t see LeBron going there by himself, without another star, so what happens if Oklahoma City gets to the Western Conference Finals and loses in seven games? Does Paul George stay? Again, I think there are too many questions, at this point, for LeBron to know where he wants to go.”
There is no consensus among NBA executives on who got the better end of the deal that shipped four-time All-Star Kyrie Irving from Cleveland to Boston on Aug. 22, but there is when it comes to how they see the trade impacting LeBron James’ decision to stay or go next summer. The deal doesn’t change a thing. The prevailing sentiment among the league executives B/R contacted remains that when it comes time to exercise the option on his final contract year with the Cavaliers, James won’t. “He’s out,” a Western Conference scout says. “Foregone conclusion,” one Eastern Conference general manager adds. “I don’t see him staying in Cleveland,” another thinks.
Trying to persuade James to stay home won’t be easy. Altman is also handcuffed by the mammoth payroll that won’t budge enough for a marquee free agent even if Thomas bolts. Even so, with James, Thomas and Love, the deep Cavaliers still have a roster capable of advancing to a fourth-straight NBA Finals and possibly winning. It will be tougher with Irving joining forces with All-Star forward Hayward, forwards Al Horford and budding star Jaylen Brown, and heralded rookie Jayson Tatum. But Boston will desperately need to be one of the NBA’s best scoring teams after losing some defensive standouts in Crowder, center Amir Johnson and more notably Avery Bradley.
Bron was leaving Coral Tree Cafe in Brentwood on Sunday when we asked about the prediction Griffin made on the “View From the Cheap Seats” podcast … that LeBron will leave Cleveland for the Knicks. “Honestly, I don’t see him coming to L.A. period,” Griffin said … “I could see him going to New York before L.A.” So, how did Bron feel about that? “I don’t even know what you’re talking about, shawty,” LeBron told our female photog … right before hopping into his clean white Porsche.
Clippers forward Blake Griffin explained his contrarian theory on the View From The Cheap Seats podcast, saying he thinks James’ side has something “brewing” but it isn’t a plan to play in Los Angeles as many suspect. “I could see [LeBron] going to New York before L.A. I still think, when you go to the Garden, it’s a completely different feeling,” Griffin said. “The energy, there seems like there’s just a consistent buzz the entire game. … Even last year when you go play them, it’s still there.”
Griffin joined the View From The Cheap Seats podcast and was asked about LeBron potentially teaming up with him on the Clippers. Griffin loved the idea, but he wasn’t about to get his hopes up. He said that he couldn’t see it happening, but that it would be insane.
Blake Griffin: “Honestly, I don’t see him coming to L.A., period. Listen, again, I have no idea. I think something is brewing with him and his group of guys. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but something’s brewing. And I think they’re going to try to make that work.”
Blake Griffin: “I could see him going to New York before L.A. … I still think, when you go to the Garden, it’s a completely different feeling. The energy — there seems like there’s just a continual buzz the entire game.”
On the Sklar Brothers’ podcast, “View from the Cheap Seats,” Blake Griffin explained why he doesn’t think he’ll eventually have to share a city with LeBron. Griffin said “I don’t see that happening,” when the idea of James joining the Clippers was mentioned, and then added his thoughts on LeBron going to the Lakers.
“Honestly, I don’t see him coming to L.A. period,” Griffin said. “Listen, again, I have no idea [laughs]. I think something is brewing with him and his group of guys. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I think something’s brewing and they’re going to try to make that work.”
“I could see [LeBron] going to New York before L.A. I still think, when you go to the Garden, it’s a completely different feeling,” Griffin said. “The energy, there seems like there’s just a consistent buzz the entire game. … Even last year when you go play them, it’s still there.”
A store in Akron is trying to help convince James that he needs to stay home with these shirts and hats made by 7th Floor Clothing (a company that says they were the ones who made “the official Kiss The Trophy dad hat” that James wore after winning the title in Cleveland).
Chris Broussard: 2 sources close to LeBron insist he hasn’t made decision on future w/Cavs past next season & he won’t make a decision before end of season.
The dramatic Cleveland Cavaliers offseason has basically put the entire team’s future into question. Kyrie Irving wants to leave. LeBron James will be a free agent after this season, and some fans already think LeBron’s time in Cleveland is nearing an end. Kevin Durant and rapper Lil Dicky, who once featured KD in a music video, discussed just that on Wednesday.
Alex Kennedy: LeBron camp is vehemently denying this report. “That source is totally off, especially about the relationship between LeBron and ownership.”
Chris Sheridan: NBA source said today: “This will be LeBron’s final season in Cleveland. He is 100 percent leaving. Relationship with owners beyond repair.”
Cleveland isn’t giving up on the possibility of re-signing James next summer, but it is no longer investing blind faith in the hope he will stay. For James, a reluctance to commit comes with an emerging set of complications. Beyond Irving’s decision to ask for a trade, Cleveland has determined that it’s unwilling to simply be reactive to James’ possible departure.
Of course, Cavaliers officials prefer to re-sign James to a long-term deal and chase titles together into his twilight, but the Cavs are treating his unwillingness to commit as a call to protect themselves long term in the Irving trade, league sources said.
While Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James has an offseason house in Los Angeles, many people got excited to see he mentioned L.A. as his “home” on Twitter.
It seems that NBA players are starting to believe the hype, with veteran Matt Barnes making his case during an appearance on ‘The Herd, With Colin Cowherd’. During the interview, Barnes suggested that the Lakers could be the ideal fit for James, in order to get a chance to work with Johnson on his post-playing career: No better place. Yeah, no question. I think with him, he bought a big old house out in Brentwood. LA is the place to be. I heard he wants to be in management after and I think no better person in the game to help model and shape him than Magic Johnson.
LeBron James is “deeply committed” to the Cavaliers and has been “helpful” in their pursuit of free agents, team owner Dan Gilbert and new general manager Koby Altman said Wednesday. James, according to reports by cleveland.com and other outlets, has been frustrated with the departure of former GM David Griffin and, until the signing of Derrick Rose, the team’s tepid activity in free agency.
James can also be a free agent next summer, should he opt out of his contract. Sources close to James say he does not know what he will do after this season. “LeBron remains deeply committed to this organization,” Altman said. “He remains deeply committed to this team and deeply committed to this city. He has deep roots to this city. And it means a lot to him to be here and compete for championships for years to come. That’s his goal, and so we have shared goals.”
Marla Ridenour: Gilbert on LeBron’s future beyond this season: “We do not control all the cards. As Koby said, LeBron has been as helpful as he’s ever been.
Marla Ridenour: Gilbert said LeBron has been helpful this off-season, communicative.
Billups didn’t speak with James until after he decided to turn down the job and James’ plans for 2018 when he can become a free agent didn’t directly factor into the decision. “The whole LeBron leaving the next year, to be honest that didn’t bother me that much,” Billups said. “Here’s why: when you have an opportunity to really put something together and put your imprint on it — rebuilding is a beautiful thing if the (owner) is going to have the patience with you. What bothered me more than if LeBron left or not was I didn’t think they had great assets if you have to do a rebuild. It was more that than Bron. Bron and I have always had an amazing relationship.”
They are acting as if they intend to. Cleveland is seeking a bundle of assets, but the highest priority right now is snagging a blue-chip young player, according to sources across the league. That is not necessarily a signal they think James is leaving. They would like to get everything: one or two veterans who can help LeBron dethrone Golden State, that blue-chipper, and picks. They want to prepare for a worst-case scenario of LeBron leaving without shoving him out the door by acquiring players he deems unready. Even so, the blue-chipper appears to be their guidepost, sources say.
James, along with Dirk Nowitzki and Carmelo Anthony, are the only players equipped with no-trade clauses. The Cavaliers’ superstar holds a $35.6 million player option for the 2018-19 campaign, which means he could elect to test unrestricted free agency next summer. In regards to that scenario, a decision has not been made.
In registering his preference to Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert for a trade, league sources said, Irving divulged that he’s become increasingly uneasy about a future that includes a roster constructed to complement LeBron James — a roster that could well be devoid of James come free agency in 2018.
James, according to two sources, had no idea that Irving was unhappy with his role this past season or wanted out of Cleveland. James’s future in Cleveland is already uncertain after this season; he will be an unrestricted free agent in 2018 and many around the league have believed for weeks that he’s likely to leave the Cavs for a second time and sign either with the Lakers or Clippers next summer.
Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving took a moment during Tuesday night’s Fashionable 50 event by Sports Illustrated in Los Angeles to acknowledge the rumors swirling about his team. SI’s Maggie Gray asked Irving, “How different could the Cavaliers team look in just a couple years” considering the latest rumors regarding LeBron James’ leaving to join the Los Angeles Lakers after his contract is up in 2018. Irving could be a free agent after the 2018-19 season. “Like I said, we’re in a peculiar place,” Irving said. “The best thing we can do is handle things with class and professionalism. Obviously we have a great owner that’s willing to spend a little money on guys that he believes in. At this point, we just see what happens throughout the summer.”
And, not surprisingly, opinions on his ultimate location were split among league executives in Las Vegas. Several felt confident he will head west to Los Angeles next summer, agreeing with the rumblings along those lines that have been going around the league for some time. Coincidental or not, this speculation was given an extra dose of fuel when James showed up at a Lakers Summer League game last Wednesday instead of going to the ESPYs.
That said, there exists a healthy amount of skepticism that James will be willing to play for a team that, even with his addition, doesn’t seem like it will be capable of competing on a level playing field with the Golden State Warriors. Thus, making that move would end his consecutive NBA Finals streak end at eight — assuming, as the entire league suspects, his Cavaliers will make it back there again next June. This is why some could see James hanging on for at least another year in Cleveland to better survey what’s out there if he did decide to leave the Cavaliers.
Add in the fact that Griffin and the Cavaliers parted ways only three days before the draft, with Griffin engaged in ongoing talks with the Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls about possibly landing stars such as like Paul George and Jimmy Butler, and it’s safe to say that Gilbert is giving James every reason to let his eyes wander these days. The familiar dysfunction is enough to breathe life into all the possibilities that surround James elsewhere, chief among them the notion that he might take his talents to Manhattan Beach to play for the purple and gold next July.
As if Ball’s play wasn’t enough, or all those Lakers fans in attendance who spent the night screaming for James to come their way next summer or the fun fact that James himself was wearing a purple tie-dyed shirt, there was the sneaker subplot that made it even more compelling. As has been well-chronicled, Ball and his outspoken father, LaVar, are trying to buck the basketball shoe system by way of their Big Baller Brand. Rather than sign with the titans of industry, such as James’ Nike brand or Adidas or Under Armour, they have been going their own way by making their own shoes and apparel with the hopes of landing a massive payday down the line.
Sam Amick: Here in Vegas, where LeBron has come by to watch Lakers & Sixers, fan yells, “LeBron, come to the Lakers!” Fans trying to get his attention.
When Ball made his summer league debut Friday, his father LaVar Ball said that if the Lakers ever managed to team up James with his son, they would win a championship together. James can opt out of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers next summer. “Heck yeah!” LaVar Ball told ESPN. “Lonzo and LeBron? Come on man! That’s real deal. You don’t want to give him the best player in the world. You don’t want to give Lonzo the best player in the world and don’t get no championship? Shoot.”
But that’s only the beginning. Simmons sees a much bigger picture that could come together. “What if I told you that 12 months from now, LeBron James, Paul George, John Wall, and Boogie Cousins will all be on the Los Angeles Lakers together?” he says. “Conspiracy Bill has some things that he doesn’t like about what’s going on. I think the LeBron James–[to]-L.A. [story], he hasn’t come out and denied it. Everyone’s talking about it in the league, it became public last month. He knows they’re talking about it and hasn’t said anything. Hasn’t said, ‘This is ridiculous. I’m so tired of hearing this. I want to finish my career in Cleveland.’”
While the 32-year-old Young hopes to maximize his earnings on a multi-year contract for a playoff team, the Lakers want to sign players to one-year deals to save cap space for the 2018 offseason when LeBron James, Paul George and Russell Westbrook might be available.
According to Mike Wise of The Undefeated, however, LeBron in a Clippers uniform is not something we will ever see. Wise gave details on the Freddie and Fritz radio show: I got from a very good authority — a very good authority — that LeBron James will never be a Clipper. I can’t tell you who, but I’m going to tell you it’s somebody that knows, and LeBron James will never be a Clipper.
But even with LeBron-to-Los Angeles (Clippers or Lakers) rumors swirling, that plan might not even get off the ground. Mike Wise of The Undefeated on Freddie and Fritz: I’m going to give you something on this show, and this is breaking news. Nobody else is going to have it. I got from a very good authority – a very good authority – that LeBron James will never be a Clipper. I can’t tell you who, but I’m going to tell you it’s somebody that knows, and LeBron James will never be a Clipper. I don’t know if that’s because he remembers what the Clippers used to be, or he just doesn’t want to put his lot in there, or he thinks Steve Ballmer is just too animated on the sideline. He’s never going to be a Clipper. I’m just telling people right now, for your edification. I’m breaking this on the Freddie Coleman and Fitz show.
Sam Amick: As @JasonLloydNBA reported, Cavs offer Chauncey Billups to run basketball ops but he hasn’t decided. Two factors I’m told he has pondered. 1) LeBron could leave next summer in free agency 2) Cavs coach Ty Lue is a close friend & prospect of being objectively critical isn’t easy
Adrian Wojnarowski: For the Lakers, this is longer-term play to clear space for Paul George and LeBron James pursuit. Lonzo Ball on way at No.2.
All-Star Kyrie Irving has been contacting some of his former Team USA teammates and letting them know that he might be willing to push for a trade, especially if he feels the Cavs’ run could end quickly with James able to opt out after next season. Through back channels, Chicago would be one of the places that Irving would be interested to play.
But what about the Cavs? There is a big-picture implication to Griffin’s departure, and it involves James, who can become a free agent following the 2017-18 season. This puts James’ long-term plans in Cleveland in jeopardy, especially if the Cavs don’t win the title next year. It is not out of the question that James leaves Cleveland again if he doesn’t believe a championship is possible in the short term. There was no guarantee James would stay with Griffin as GM, but the new executive has plenty of work to do – namely improving the roster – and just short time to do it.
“Who they bring in will play a big role in LeBron’s decision next summer,” said the source, who was granted anonymity to discuss James’ reaction. “If they bring in someone who is stable, who has the ability to make things happen, then fine. No harm no foul. But if it’s amateur hour, that’s a different story.”
The grand plan now for West and his new Clippers colleagues, president of basketball operations and head coach Doc Rivers and executive vice president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank? Targeting the biggest fish in next summer’s free agent sea: LeBron James.
According to two people with knowledge of the situation, West’s potential ability to improve the Clippers’ chances of landing the Cleveland Cavaliers star in free agency in the summer of 2018 was a significant factor in his hiring and in the willingness of owner Steve Ballmer to pay West between $4 and $5 million annually.
There’s all kinds of work to do before then, like re-signing James’ close friend/Clippers point guard Chris Paul this summer (which is still believed to be likely) and convincing five-time All-Star forward Blake Griffin to come back too (which is considered more dicey).
It’s highly unlikely either James or George would leave Cleveland after a hypothetical championship. For that matter, a source with knowledge of James’ thinking said it’s far too early to say what gen might do next summer, but he is happy in Cleveland.
Those close to James insist that he will opt out of his Cleveland deal next summer and that he’s very interested in moving to Los Angeles, where he owns a home, where his kids are enrolled in a private school (just in case the family moves west), and where James’ business conglomerate has established a base of operations.
Sirius XM NBA: “I think there’s a 50/50 chance that he’s leaving after next season and heading out West” @Frank Isola “I think it’s happening” @Brian Scalabrine pic.twitter.com/1RkxaSLfv4
Adrian Wojnarowski on LeBron James: Not only is there no guarantee he’s coming back… I’m not sure there’s an expectation he’s re-signing there. I think they feel that he’s very much in play to leave again and likely head out West to one of the L.A. teams.
LeBron might have to leave again, as discussed last week on The Ringer, to actually catch the Ghost of Michael Jordan. LeBron could be tempted by the Lakers or Clippers, or some other team with a better roster, a more experienced coach — and a quality owner. That last bit might matter more than one would think.
After that LeBron story was published, a front-office source texted me that morning adding that a big reason LeBron might look elsewhere is due to his still-rocky relationship with Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert. LeBron’s comments in a video on Uninterrupted were posted hours later and confirmed LeBron’s — and his family’s — tensions with ownership. Gilbert’s infamous Comic Sans letter to James still weighs on his close circle today.
Brian Windhorst: “If you’re gonna attract LeBron James next summer or if you’re gonna keep LeBron James if you’re the Cavs, you have to have the ability to say you can beat the Golden State Warriors. Right now, Los Angeles Lakers or Los Angeles Clippers can’t even begin to say that. The team with the best chances are the Cleveland Cavaliers. If they stay in that position, they’ll have a good chance to keep LeBron for the rest of his career.”
Ken Berger on LeBron James: “I can see him at some point later in his career latching on with a team where he would be the third option and try to get one more, or just get a chance to play with friends and guys he always wanted to play with, like Chris Paul or Carmelo Anthony. But, to me, that’s way in the future right now. I think he’s very much in the moment”.
Rumblings across the league suggest that LeBron will consider taking his talents out West, as Bill Simmons and I discussed this week on The Bill Simmons Podcast. The LeBron noise echoes what The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski wrote last year: With a Finals victory for Cleveland secure, James could get to “run off with his buddies again somewhere warm.”
Multiple league sources I’ve spoken to think the Lakers or Clippers are viable destinations for King James. Jalen Rose said this week on First Take that he expects LeBron to make a move from Cleveland to California, where he already owns a house 30 minutes away from Staples Center.
Storyline Hype Rumor visits per day for the last week
Views per day
October 18, 2017 | 7:46 pm EDT Update
If there’s one player who understands what Gordon Hayward is going through, it’s Paul George. The Oklahoma City Thunder star said seeing Hayward’s devastating injury Tuesday night made him “nauseous.” “It just brought me back to Vegas and when it happened to me, my incident,” George said Wednesday. “Immediately I felt devastated. I was like nauseous watching it, just going back to that place. Immediately after it happened I texted Gordon. We talked last night. I just tried to give him words of encouragement, just tried to be there for him.”
Much like Hayward, George received overwhelming support from not only around the NBA, but all of professional sports, something he said was extremely helpful in his road back to the floor. “I think we do a great job as players to kind of pick one another up,” he said. “At the end of the day, man, this is a brotherhood, and we genuinely care for everybody’s health. Health is most important. I’ve been there. I know what that outreach did for me, so I wanted to be there for Gordon in his time of need and help pick him up. Hopefully I can be one of the best influences, going through that.”