Paul Garcia: If LeBron exercises his player option and gets traded like Chris Paul, he’ll make $35,607,968 next season (per BI). If he signs elsewhere with cap space, he’ll earn $35,350,000 next season. He has until June 29 to make the player option decision.
Ira Winderman: Chris Bosh today, on LeBron. to Colin Cowherd: “I think he goes to Houston. It’s a star power league. It’s like the next Avengers movie.”
According to Stephen A. Smith, the three-time NBA champ will meet with the Golden State Warriors this summer. Smith even spent time on ESPN’s “First Take” detailing how James could end up in Golden State.
On a program called First Take on ESPN, Smith, a former columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, believed LeBron James would talk to several teams — including the Sixers — this summer if/when he hits free agency. But that’s not the weird thing. "LeBron James is going to have a conversation with the Cleveland Cavaliers. They can offer him the most, and they are willing to do anything they can to keep him here, etc. etc., and obviously the wife is going to have a major, major say in things. So you got that going on. He's going to have a conversation with Boston. He's going to have a conversation with Philly. Obviously the Lakers. Houston's in the mix as well. They are going to go after him. Make no mistake about it."
But in a recent interview with Business Insider for our podcast, "Success! How I Did It," Gilbert told us he sees James as an equal, not an employee. Gilbert said he considers James the best basketball player on the planet. "In that situation, although legally, he may be working for our organization, that's not really the case," Gilbert said. "He's more like your partner, really."
Stephen A. says LeBron might be meeting with your team this summer. How does that hit you? Kevin Durant: “With the Warriors? I have no clue. I mean everybody can speculate. This guy over here who works for ESPN, I’m sure he’s got a theory. I just don’t believe it. I don’t believe anything in this NBA thing until I see it.”
Regardless of the circumstances, the makers of the “2K” video game series would have received some attention for putting LeBron James on the cover of their latest edition, because, well, he’s LeBron. However, there are a couple of aspects to that cover that generated major chatter Tuesday, when “2k19″ was revealed. For one thing, James is shown in close-up, as opposed to being displayed in a Cavaliers jersey, which only further fanned the flames of speculation that he is not long for Cleveland. Also of interest was that among the phrases surrounding him — which James chose himself — was “G.O.A.T.,” as in “greatest of all time” (not that many reading this post need that spelled out).
Rob Lopez: Woj on LeBron James this summer: "We know that he's not going to give the Cavs much, if any, direction at all going into the draft or free agency about moves he'd potentially like... They'll draft blind on draft night"
Rob Lopez: Woj says the idea of LeBron James and Paul George partnering up in LA will be a conversation the two players will need to have going into the offseason
Though the WestGate Las Vegas sports book has given the Heat tied for the fifth best odds of winning the championship next season (20 to 1) because of a belief LeBron James could return to the Heat this summer, there is absolutely no expectation inside the Heat that James will return. Yes, the Heat would welcome James back if he shockingly decided to come back. But the Heat would need to trade off many of its appealing assets to make this work even in the unlikely event James wanted to return. And if Cleveland refused to do a sign-and-trade with the Heat, Miami would need to trim more than $55 million in salary while taking no money back to create the cap room.
ESPN Cleveland: Windhorst: The #Cavs are down 2-0 in parts because GS has Kevin Durant and they don't have Kyrie Irving. They aren't just defeated in the X's and O's but in the talent as well. That will all factor into LeBron's decision including the Cavs plan for this summer.
However, once the 2017-18 NBA season is complete, one of the biggest storylines for the league will be where the Cavaliers superstar will be playing basketball next season. In a recent episode of "Jalen and Jacoby," Denver Nuggets veteran forward Richard Jefferson spoke about James' upcoming free agency and speculated that the Portland Trail Blazers could be a possible destination for James. "I can see him doing anything, because no one knows," Jefferson said. "Marc Stein doesn’t know, I don’t know, you don’t know. No one knows. No one knew he was going to Miami, hence the television show, “The Decision.” No one knew he was going back to Cleveland. … Right now, I really think Portland is trying to do some things to move their entire roster. Obviously, LeBron has a connection to Oregon because of his relationship with Nike. Phil Knight being a really, really big LeBron fan, I think wants to get him up there. They could build a whole new campus up there. Portland has now entered into the unfounded, irresponsible speculation of free agency around LeBron."
Jared Dudley: Facts.. next season he’ll have more [help] CJ McCollum: Lmao where will he have more at?
Jon Johnson: David Griffin on Lebron James possibly to Sixers on @ZachGelb show on @CBSSportsRadio: "I do think it's significant that Rich Paul is the representative for Ben Simmons as well, so he's going to know the org very well. That will certainly give them a leg up"
Part of the metric calibration I mentioned above is valuing the tradeoff between usage and efficiency. This relies on measuring the average extent to which players get less efficient in smaller roles, but each individual has a different degree of sensitivity to how much they're being asked to do on offense. Star players are valuable precisely because they see less drop-off than role players in smaller roles. At the same time, they benefit less in terms of efficiency from playing alongside a high-usage teammate like LeBron. Still, these results seem to offer an important takeaway for any team that signs James this summer (including the Cavaliers). While some additional shot creators are necessary, particularly in a playoff setting, any team with James must be careful not to invest too many resources on players who are best with the ball in their hands. Instead, the focus should be on finding role players whose games will mesh well with LeBron's.
It won’t bother James to be in Houston rather than a glamor capitol like Los Angeles. If the best players usually want the brightest lights and the biggest stage, Bron is 180 degrees different. It has always a personal conceit that wherever he is is a marquee market. He wasn’t even 21 as a young NBA player when he began convening an annual marketing conference—in his home town of Akron, not even nearby Cleveland—obliging his sponsors to show up there. It’s true that LeBron owns two pricey homes in Brentwood, suggesting that he is, indeed, thinking about the Lakers... but that may mean little in the end. “These days it doesn’t matter because you can be known and be a star from anywhere-–anywhere in the world,” Maverick Carter, Bron’s point man, recently told syndicated talk show host Rich Eisn. “I mean, could he sell a few more sneakers if he was in a gigantic market like Boston, Chicago, New York, or L.A.? Maybe. But not as much as if he wins. What matters the most is if he wins. When you win as an athlete, that matters the most.”
Many have their money on destinations like the Philadelphia 76ers and Houston Rockets who have the firepower to become another great NBA superteam, but former Cavaliers teammate Richard Jefferson joined ESPN on Thursday to discuss LeBron's offseason plans and where he might end up. What he had to say should pique the interest of Portland Trail Blazers fans, even though his reasoning is more than a bit silly: "Right now I really think that Portland is trying to do some things to move their entire roster and start [building around] Lebron." Jefferson told ESPN's David Jacoby. "Obviously LeBron has a connection to Oregon because of his relationship with Nike. Phil Knight being a really big LeBron fan, I think wants to get him up there. I mean, they could build a whole new campus up there. Portland has now entered into the unfounded, irresponsible speculation of free agency around LeBron."
After those comments, Jefferson continues to joke with Jacoby about why the LeBron would join the Blazers. "He said a positive thing about Damian Lillard, I think, in like... 2008. I've seen him wear a blazer on multiple occasions. Red and black are [colors] he's had on his shoes... There are a lot of things I don't think people are following here and I think, for me - and this is completely unfounded and I have not talked to anybody - but i really think Portland will be his destination." Obviously, everything Jefferson is saying here can be taken with a grain of salt. It's a joke, folks, and all of the reasons he listed LeBron would be likely to join Portland are thin at best.
James is the Sixers’ most sought-after target, but they are also eyeing Oklahoma City Thunder all-star Paul George, among others, according to sources. “That’s why they are going to have to definitively prove that it wasn’t him,” the executive said. “You are getting into free agency, and these players aren’t going to take a chance coming to the Sixers.”
In addition to the Rockets’ longstanding interest in free agent-to-be LeBron James, another noteworthy longtime target of general manager Daryl Morey is Paul George, two league sources told Rockets Wire.
Rest assured that the Rockets' understandably devastated Chris Paul — who made a fast exit from Toyota Center late Monday night after being forced to watch the biggest game of his life from the bench because of his hamstring injury — has already begun his recruitment of James to Houston.
With LeBron James icing down in the locker room after playing all 48 minutes to assure a fourth straight trip to the NBA Finals for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert reflected on the win in an adjacent room and said he is not allowing James' potential free agency this summer to swallow up the moment. "Like him, I think he's said this, we're just focused -- and it's the truth, it's not avoiding the question -- we're literally focused on (the now)," Gilbert told ESPN. "It's just so intense in the playoffs and getting to the Finals and now the Finals, I don't think -- and I know he doesn't -- I don't think even our guys are talking (about anything other than) what's in front of them.
"When LeBron leaves," one Eastern Conference executive told Bleacher Report, choosing an interesting qualifier (not "if" but "when"), "that trade will be devastating financially. A lot of money in [George] Hill and Clarkson, and you have to pay Nance."
The best the Cavs can hope for is that James can find it within himself to pull the team out of this hole, complete an eighth consecutive trip to the Finals and then fail to find the free-agent options as appealing as he may have hoped. "He's not going to the Lakers, because they know they can get Kawhi [Leonard] next summer," the agent said. "If I'm the Sixers, I have to think about what it means to bring in LeBron and take the ball out of Ben Simmons' hands. Simmons is useless when he's not controlling the ball. Is LeBron going to give up the ball?"
Several possible factors in LeBron’s decision-making process have been raised by league sources: a place to raise his family; a place where he will have the best shot at winning more championships; a place where he can begin setting up his post-playing career and dip into the world of entertainment and team ownership. The Lakers, more than any other team in the league, sit at the nexus of all the reasons LeBron would want to join a franchise.
Paul Pierce was on the phone talking about his 2010 Celtics and the second-round series against Cleveland. He seemed to take particular joy in the video of LeBron James walking off the court in the Garden and removing his jersey on the way to the dressing room — the prelude to a departure for Miami two months later. “We could be seeing history repeat itself,” Pierce said through laughter. “That’s the funny part about it, because if Boston beats them, we all know he’s gone. He may be gone anyway.”
Team president of basketball operation and general manager Bryan Colangelo said the Sixers could have roughly $25 million available in cap space to attract free agents. James is projected to make at least $35 million next season.
The answer, at least the top target, is clear as day, with James expected by all to decline his player option with the Cleveland Cavaliers and enter free agency. Brown can’t admit that LeBron’s the top target, at least not by name, but he still sort of did. “I’m not here to tell names,” Brown said on the topic, before acknowledging that the answer is an easy one to arrive at. “To me, the answer becomes clear.” After a long, somewhat awkward pause before the next question, Brown continued. “It’s true though, right? I mean, like, we don’t have to turn this into calculus. It’s quite clear.”
Tomer Azarly: Brian Windhorst on LeBron James' future with #Cavs - "Let's say they get lucky and hop up to number 3. I'm not sure that LeBron is that excited about, you know, playing with Luka Doncic even if that draft pick may end up setting the franchise in a great position in 2 or 3 years." Windhorst, continued, on LeBron James' free agency - "I think the #Cavs greatest situation is that there is no other great situation and that may end up keeping LeBron put."
But Lopez may well have walked into the most exciting period for the team he was traded to, the LA Lakers, since the showtime era which starred Magic Johnson, if the efforts of the owners to get superstar LeBron James and Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Paul George to the Lakers materialise. "It's a very exciting possibility," said Lopez, adding: "Obviously they are two supremely talented players and they have both changed the face of the teams and it is definitely going to be an interesting off season when it happens."
Ian Begley: Enes Kanter: “Hey LeBron, you really want to be king of New York? Come and prove it. I’ll see you July 1st, brother.” The Knicks, who aren’t getting LeBron in free agency, would have to clear a ton of cap space to even afford him.
During a Sunday appearance on FOX Sports Radio’s “Chris and Caron,” Bryant cautioned against splitting up the club’s young core in favor of a more expedient return to title contention via free agency, with the likes of LeBron James and Paul George in L.A.’s crosshairs. “If you want to be a dynasty or a team that has longevity, those things take time, and generally are grown from within,” Bryant said (h/t Silver Screen and Roll’s Christian Rivas for the transcription). “You slap a couple All-Stars together, you can maybe win two of three, but eventually players get traded. But if you build a team organically, that dynasty team tends to stay together longer.”
Lee Jenkins: "I asked a couple people in Houston about it [LeBron James potentially joining the Rockets in free agency] and there was sort of a like a look of, 'Why would we break this up right now?' Because they know everything they would have to give up and the moves they would have [to make it feasible]."
Knicks brass has pointed toward the summer of 2019, when it plans to be ready to make a free-agent splash. But after Thursday’s hiring of former Memphis head coach and Heat assistant David Fizdale, the Knicks are prepared to open salary-cap space this summer in the unlikely event they get an inkling LeBron James has some interest in coming to the Garden this summer, according to an NBA source.
Coming off a 34-point loss in Game 6 of the Cleveland Cavaliers' first-round series against the Indiana Pacers on Friday night, LeBron James said his focus is on how a Game 7 loss Sunday could end his season, not how it could be his last game ever playing for the Cavs. "No. No," James said when a reporter asked if he would ponder how his 11-year tenure in Cleveland could be coming to an end should the Cavs lose and James choose another team after opting out of the final year of his contract this summer. "The thought of, 'If we don't play well it will be my last game of the year,' that will probably hit my mind, but I haven't thought about that."
Sources close to the situation in Cleveland have been really adamant all year that unlike previous points in LeBron’s career when he could exit, he genuinely won’t entertain the ideas. He dismisses his teammates when they might talk about it, he dismisses and thanks fans and media when they bring it up, but there is a real sense that LeBron is singularly focused on the task at hand and won’t consider his future until the season is over.
There are some realities to the situation, too. LeBron’s kids are entering the AAU world and building foundational relationships that LeBron is deeply committed to. There are a hundred reasons not related to basketball for LeBron to remain in Cleveland beyond this season. However, almost no one in the NBA world believes that going to happen without a championship run (win or lose).
The prevailing thought from outside the Cavaliers is that LeBron forces a trade rather than walking away. Much like his good friend Chris Paul, LeBron can choose to opt into his final contract year and push his way to a team with existing stars – like Houston. The fact that teams like the Lakers and even the Philadelphia 76ers could sign him outright in free agency gives him some leverage.
I will continue to trumpet the belief that James would be making a huge mistake to leave the Eastern Conference that he has dominated for years by joining the Houston Rockets or Los Angeles Lakers and potentially complicating his annual path to the championship round. But the Cavaliers suddenly look so rickety again that I now fully understand why whispers about the Philadelphia 76ers and their growing behind-the-scenes confidence that they can woo LeBron to Philly this summer are getting louder.
“The Lakers plan hasn’t changed. They want to get both of them." - @wojespn on Lakers going after Lebron & Paul George
While on ESPN's "SportsNation," Windhorst thinks where Leonard goes will directly impact the future of Cavaliers' LeBron James. What happens to Kawhi Leonard, is a link to what happens to LeBron (James). Where Kawhi ends up this season, will have a direct impact on where LeBron ends up even if they don't play together.
Walton’s improvement and maturation as a coach throughout the season has seemingly flown under the radar, however, as he has made significant strides in the handling of his players. Channing Frye has witnessed this first hand since being traded. He was asked whether James would want to play for Walton and eventually opened up after some initial trepidation. “Am I allowed to talk about that?” Frye asked aloud before continuing. “I’m going to say this, I think any superstar would like to play for Luke. I think he’s a players’ coach. I think when you talk about the continuity with the president, owner, GM, a lot of guys are looking for that.
Walton’s improvement and maturation as a coach throughout the season has seemingly flown under the radar, however, as he has made significant strides in the handling of his players. Channing Frye has witnessed this first hand since being traded. He was asked whether LeBron James would want to play for Walton and eventually opened up after some initial trepidation. “Am I allowed to talk about that?” Frye asked aloud before continuing.
Channing Frye: “I’m going to say this, I think any superstar would like to play for Luke. I think he’s a players’ coach. I think when you talk about the continuity with the president, owner, GM, a lot of guys are looking for that. I think you’re looking for a culture, I think you’re looking for a guy who’s intense and wants to win now. I think his system is open for learning and growth.”
Kevin Love, who will open up the playoffs as the Cavs' starting center, acknowledged the elephant in the room that's largely gone unmentioned by the Cavaliers' organization this season -- that James' impending decision could have an impact on Cleveland's playoff run, and vice versa.
"It definitely could," Love told ESPN on Friday. "But only one person knows what he's thinking and that's 'Bron. I think at the end of the day, we would love to have a long run, but that's going to be up to not only him but all of us. And you know I don't mean only the players, but the coaching staff and everybody. I mean, really getting on board and, you know, sticking to our schemes and playing great basketball.”
Former Knick and current Cavaliers teammate J.R. Smith was even more direct when told about and shown a photo of the billboard on Sunday, not mincing words when asked if he believes there’s any chance LeBron winds up with the Knicks as a free agent this summer. “Nah, don’t think so. Can’t see it (happening),” Smith told the Daily News with a laugh after the Cavs worked out at Basketball City at Pier 36 on South Street. “But that’s cool, though, man. A lot of cities have tried that already with (a billboard). But we’ll see what happens.”
Ian Begley: LeBron James on the billboard in New York asking him to sign w/the Knicks: “Same reaction that I had to every last one of them this year. I think it’s very humbling that cities and organizations want me to play for them, especially at this juncture in my career. So, that’s it.”
If the rumor mill is to be believed, LeBron James is entering his final regular-season games and prepping for his last playoff run as a Cavalier. But James isn't thinking that way in the run up to the Cavs' last two games -- both against the Knicks -- and the playoffs that start next weekend. "I don't think like that," James told cleveland.com, after the Cavs practiced Sunday in New York. "I'm too much of a guy that's stuck in the moment. I don't do too much of that."
When it comes time for James to weigh his options, he said Sunday that the most important component in determining whether he stays in northeast Ohio or leaves will be his family. "My family. That's all that matters," James told cleveland.com. "I want to continue to win at the highest level, because I know I can still do it as an individual, and then my family. My family is what's most important to me, more than anything."
"That's just a small piece of it," James said, when asked if the decision comes down to where his family wants to live. "We make joint decisions all together, all the time. Once we get to it, my agent and my team we will all tackle it the right way but my family plays a big part in it. And winning."
A billboard near Madison Square Garden challenges James to sign with the Knicks as a free agent with the phrase "King of New York? Prove it" and the hashtag #KingJamesNYC18. Billboards in Akron, Ohio (touting the Cavs), Los Angeles (pitching the Lakers) and Cleveland (selling the 76ers) have also been commissioned in the past several months. James, a four-time MVP, can opt out of his contract and test free agency this summer.
How would you see LeBron fitting in to the Spurs culture? Danny Green: “Obviously, they’ll make it work. They’ll find a way, I’m sure. I think he’ll fit in perfectly.” […] “For him, not just us, but any team where they have good coaching or a good organization or a good surrounding or a good foundation, I think we’ll take him in and a win a lot of games and also be a contender.
“He himself can make any team a contender. Being in the Spurs organization, obviously with Pop, and depending on who they’ll be able to keep— “If they can still keep Kawhi and [LaMarcus Aldridge] and those foundational pieces, it would be interesting to see.”
CJ McCollum thinks that LeBron James joining the Philadelphia 76ers next season “is a bigger possibility than people think.” On the premiere episode of the Pull Up podcast, McCollum reasoned that staying in the East, and playing alongside “his young guy” Ben Simmons could make Philly an attractive destination for LeBron (starting at 38:24).
Is there an actual chance LeBron goes to the 76ers? CJ McCollum: “He’s always (been) calculated about his decision-making process going back to his youth. Ben [Simmons] is his young guy. Ben is a member of Klutch Sports, so that also could play a factor. Philly is in the Eastern Conference. LeBron has been fond of the Eastern Conference throughout his career on what seems to be his EZ-Pass to the Finals. I think it’s a bigger possibility than people think. I’m not sure if they have the space financially for that. Obviously, they have a lot of guys on rookie deals right now. But they would need to get some more shooters in there if they do want to bring Bron in.”
Beyond the recovery process on his hip, Thomas' future with the Lakers would depend largely on the franchise's success in recruiting Cleveland's LeBron James and Oklahoma City's Paul George into the organization's salary-cap space. If the Lakers are unsuccessful in those recruitments, it would significantly increase the front office's interest in exploring one-year deals for the 2018-19 season to preserve future salary-cap space, league sources told ESPN.
LeBron James says he hasn't seen the latest billboard, the one in the Akron area recruiting him to remain with the Cavaliers by showing ruby red Nike sneakers with the tagline "LeBron, there's no place like home." You be the judge if that's true. " I haven't seen it, but, like I said before, it's very flattering," James said Friday, when asked for his thoughts on the "billboards," without any explanation that they carried the familiar Wizard of Oz theme. "It's just, I don't know, it's very humbling. I know my hometown, so, I already know there's no place like Akron, that's for sure."
And yes, if his former teammate James is the target [for the Lakers], Channing Frye will happily make a phone call. “I’ll make a call to Jesus if I have to,” Frye said, “if that’s going to help get a win.”
Indeed, as he has shown in trying to carry a chemistry- and health-challenged Cavs team to a fourth straight Finals appearance, LeBron James is a franchise-changer, but is he the right target for this Lakers franchise? "I don't think he's the best fit with Lonzo [Ball]," one Eastern Conference executive said. "I think James would stunt his growth. Ball is talented enough to play off the ball and make it work, but he's best with the ball in his hands. With him wanting to secure his first payday, I don't think he'll be too happy deferring to James. You know his pop won't."
For years, the Los Angeles Lakers have been playing the cap-space game, and by trading Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. to James' Cavaliers in February, the Lakers opened the spending power to land not just LeBron, but another All-Star to play alongside him. "He's the best player on the planet," a Western Conference executive said. "No questions asked, you have to take LeBron."
Even if the Lakers bring in Paul George along with James, can a group of players barely old enough to legally order alcohol, without one game of NBA postseason experience, give enough support to win 16 contests through June? None of the answers is easy, and while the obvious play would be to try for James, the Lakers need to seriously consider how long LeBron James will be LeBron James. "He has two or three years left at an elite level," an NBA agent said, a sentiment echoed by the Western Conference executive. The executive from the East, however, didn't agree: "He'll be LBJ for however long he wants. He's a freak. I'm confident he can dominate for another five to six years."
LeBron James says he has not prepared a list of potential free-agency destinations should he opt out of the final year of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers this summer and does not believe his impending decision is affecting the Cavs' chemistry on the court.
"I've still got too much work to do here," James said, speaking about the Cavaliers' season, which has 18 games remaining before the playoffs. "One thing about me and my career, you probably don't know, you haven't been around me, that I handle my business accordingly, and when that time comes, I'll take care of that. But right now, my job right now is to get these guys prepared for the Clippers tonight and then how we can continue to get better going down the stretch."
With the Cavs playing the Clippers tonight and the Lakers Sunday, now's the time to address this, which he did this morning before the team's shootaround at UCLA. "I understand that I'm a free agent at the end of the summer so I understand the frenzy that comes with it," James said. For the sake of context, James can only be a free agent if he declines his $35.6 million player's option for next season with the Cavs.
"It's not my first rodeo, but I don't, it doesn't bother me," James said. "I don't talk about it too much. Like I said, I'll handle that whenever it comes but it', I understand that the conversation happens here because first of all they have cap space. And this league is much better when the Lakers, the Knicks, and the Celtics are all good at the same time. That's just how it is. So, that's what also creates the frenzy."
Those are the types of questions James will be weighing this summer. Sources close to James say they can see him playing until he's 40 years old. If he's able to do that, it would theoretically give him enough time to catch all-time greats like Bryant and Johnson, who each have five NBA titles (all with the Lakers). Michael Jordan remains a more distant target with six titles.
"If someone is pretending they know what LeBron is thinking, they're guessing," one source close to the situation says. "How could anyone know when he doesn't even know?"
There’s been whispers, mostly on social media, about whether LeBron James would consider the Spurs because of the mutual respect between James and Popovich, now the coach of the USA men’s basketball team. But I’ve consistently heard from multiple league sources that LeBron currently has only four teams on his list: the Cavaliers, Lakers, Rockets, and 76ers.
But it goes beyond that. Clarkson said when he was a player for the Lakers, his teammates used to talk about James coming there as a free agent, which he could be free to do this summer if he opts out of his contract with the Cavs. "I wouldn't say like management and the coaches or nobody, but in the locker room people talk when they see what's going on," Clarkson said, after the Cavs beat the Denver Nuggets 113-108. "That's probably the only thing, people talk in the locker room."
John Gonzalez: So now, people all of a sudden are talking about LeBron James [to Philadelphia]. I was shocked at Sloan [Conference] by how many conversations with people I had who went, 'Yeah, he's thinking about it.' Before it just felt like Sixers fan fiction. And now, it's like, maybe he could.
LeBron James is in Los Angeles this weekend and one diehard Lakers fan wants him to return for good this summer. Jacob Emrani, a personal injury attorney and longtime Lakers season ticket holder, is the latest to put up billboards with messages trying to sway James' potential free agent decision this summer.
Emrani says he has paid to put up four billboards around Los Angeles trying to recruit James to join the Lakers in free agency in response to previous billboards erected in Cleveland and Pennsylvania trying to convince James to join the Sixers and remain with the Cavaliers, respectively. As the Cavaliers make their only trip of the regular season to Los Angeles to face the Clippers on Friday and the Lakers on Sunday, Emrani wants James to know he's wanted in purple and gold. The Lakers have the ability to create as much as $70 million in cap space to pursue two max free agent stars like James and Oklahoma City's Paul George this summer.
Richard Jefferson's take on LeBron James' upcoming free agency was pretty measured and nuanced: "It’s an easy storyline for you guys to write, but at the end of the day, no one knew he was going to Miami, no one knew he was coming back here and he’s allowed to be a free agent.”
Richard Jefferson: “He’s a Cav and everyone here knows 1,000 percent that he’s 100 percent committed to whatever game or team he’s on. He’ll address it with his family when the season is over. I don’t know, no one knows, people can guess, everyone wants to now throw these shots in the dark. ‘Oh he’s going to go here, he’s going to do this. He played junior high hockey with this person so maybe he’ll go play in Minnesota.' Shut up. No one knows. No one knows."
In the Big Baller’s mind, that oft-rumored possibility is a done deal precisely due to Zo’s influence. “Now LeBron say, ‘I’ll go to LA.’ He didn’t say that before Lonzo got there,” LaVar said during a recent appearance on Delfi TV in Lithuania. “So when I tell them, ‘Yeah, he coming because Lonzo’s here,’ people look at me crazy and be like, ‘So he’s just coming just because your son is here?’ Yeah. He’s young and passes the ball, so he’s coming because my boy is here.”
A few minutes after sending his first post, Embiid had another tweet, probably realizing the firestorm he had started. "It's not what y'all think lol," he wrote.
Billboards from Philly-based companies. An immensely talented and playoff-bound core. Embiid's tweet. Philadelphia is doing its part to entice James. "He knows," Simmons said when asked about whether James sees what's happening with the Sixers. "He knows. He's a very smart guy. His IQ on the court is amazing."
Jon Johnson: After speaking to several individuals around the league the past few days, Lebron to philly has a much higher percentage of happening than most think. One league source told me, “50/50.”
Rick Noland: LJ on billboards: "It's not a distraction. It's actually very flattering that I'm sitting here at 33 in my 15th year and ... people in their respective city want me to play for them. That's cool, I think. That's dope."
If James, who can become a free agent after this season, decides to leave the Cavaliers, he could – and should – consider the 76ers, and executives around the league believe Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo will attempt to sign James. The Sixers are an intriguing possibility, and if James’ goal remains competing for championships and Cleveland is no longer the place, the Sixers can make a compelling case.
There’s been some growing “LeBron to Philly” buzz for four reasons: the Sixers have enough cap space and trade assets to accommodate LeBron and the likes of, say, PAUL GEORGE; Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are two of the league’s best under-25 blue-chippers (young legs!); Klutch represents Simmons (hmmmmm); and NBA insiders have been gossiping about an increasingly cozy Philly–LeBron’s circle connection since November. You want a quality narrative? What about this one:
“He’s not [coming back to Miami]. But the fact when ESPN polled 48 players about what they thought might happen with LeBron that they even mentioned the Heat shows that, at worst, the Heat remain relevant in players’ consciousness,” Winderman wrote. “Basically, the NBA players polled still consider the Heat a desirable landing spot. And that is a good thing. But I cannot fathom, as you pointed out, the Heat having enough on their roster to attract such a level of free agent. There was a time when I thought Hassan Whiteside could have been such a lure, but with his role minimized, I don’t see that as the case anymore.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he stays in Cleveland now,” one high-ranking Eastern Conference team executive said. “The Cavaliers put a really good team around him. The Cavaliers have made it really tough for him to decide to leave Cleveland again. The Lakers might have helped them keep LeBron.”
Possibly damaging the Lakers’ “King James” dreams is the franchise playing its own role in making the Cavaliers’ roster more attractive. The Lakers recently traded two of their young talents to Cleveland – easy-scoring guard Jordan Clarkson and high-flying forward Larry Nance Jr. Cleveland acquired a veteran point guard in George Hill who complements James well with his 3-point shooting, ability to be effective without the ball and defense, and also added a talented, athletic and young scorer in Rodney Hood, who could start for a lot of teams.
The new-look Cavaliers sans an injured Kevin Love are 2-0 since the moves and fun to watch again. The Lakers have the ability to sign two major free agents this summer, but the Clippers don’t have that ability until 2019. Trading ex-Clippers star Blake Griffin just months after he signed a five-year contract has to be curious to a prospective free agent as well.“I wouldn’t be surprised if he stays in Cleveland now,” one high-ranking Eastern Conference team executive said. “The Cavaliers put a really good team around him. The Cavaliers have made it really tough for him to decide to leave Cleveland again. The Lakers might have helped them keep LeBron.”
"Honestly, I'm hoping that he stays in Cleveland, just for that city. ... But I would definitely understand if he left. It's a business. You see how they did Blake [Griffin] after bringing him in during free agency, telling him all of this and all of that, and then they trade him away." -- Eastern Conference forward
"LeBron is a competitor. He's the type of guy who comes in and lays his hat on the line every night. If he went to Golden State, that would cut his competitive edge out. It would take something away from the type of player that he really is." -- Western Conference center
"It's built for stars. It's built for entertainment. It's built for cameras and bright lights, and it's a great place for it. I hope everybody had a great weekend. I know I did. I know my family did. So it was a great weekend.” A necessary disclosure for all those Lakers fans who want so badly for James to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers to come their way in free agency: This, much like the many alleged James-to-LA bread crumbs that have come before, means nothing. Yet with the Lakers fans’ dreams so tantalizingly close this weekend – James and fellow free-agent-to-be Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder in their city and their building and playing on the same team – it’s more than enough to help them hold onto that hope for the next few months.
The house-cleaning in Cleveland was all for nothing -- because LeBron James is leaving the Cavs to sign with the Lakers in the off-season ... at least, that's what LaVar Ball believes. The Big Baller was at his pop-up shop in L.A. when we asked about the possibility of Bron coming out West to play with Lonzo when he becomes a free agent at the end of the season. LaVar is not only convinced it's going to happen -- he tells TMZ Sports, "Lonzo is gonna make HIM a better player!"
August 7, 2022 | 7:04 pm EDT Update
Shams Charania: Free agent forward Kent Bazemore has agreed to a one-year deal with the Sacramento Kings, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
August 7, 2022 | 4:31 pm EDT Update
Goran Dragic talked to the Slovenian press before Saturday’s prep game against Montenegro and explained his motivation about his return to the Slovenian national team. “I predict the semi-finals, but then anything is possible”, said a smiling Dragic, who is ready to defend the title he won together with a young Luka Doncic back in 2017. However, after five years things are different and Dragic understands it: “In my opinion, I will play a little less minutes, it will not be at that level. I don’t know how much I played, 36 minutes per game? Everything will depend on how I feel. The role will definitely be different. I was Batman, but now I’ll be Robin. The most important thing will be to make sure we have good chemistry and be a leader on the court and lift guys up when it’s most difficult. My role remains the same, Luka’s may have changed a bit more, but I believe that everyone has their own role in the national team and that there will be no problems. We all understand each other, we are one big team, and that’s why we can make a good result. That chemistry is what other teams don’t have.”
Dragic had also to convince the Chicago Bulls to let him play, something that was not ideal for them: “When I had a medical exam with Chicago and sat down with them, they said I’d rather not play. I said I’d rather and in the end it’s the player who decides. I had to go to Chicago, undergo a medical examination and everything else. When you go to a medical examination, you always wait for the results, because you never know what can happen”.
And Dragic knows that the Eurobasket will not be a walk in the park: “This will be my toughest championship so far. I think a lot of national teams have players from the NBA. I believe that we will have good chances. I did not return to the national team to play for fifth or sixth place. The desire is for a medal, but now, as I said, it is necessary to go step by step”.
Law Murray: For the first time since 2017, Norman Powell is playing today @DrewLeague for Hometown Favorites He is the first current LA Clippers player to play at Drew League since Montrezl Harrell in 2019. pic.twitter.com/7fDl7wv6Lv