Jordan Zirm: "There's only like 3 or 4 people who know …

More on LeBron James Free Agency

Victor Oladipo's got the key for LeBron James to beat the Golden State Warriors next year ... and it only requires one thing from the King -- join the Pacers!! We got the Indiana star leaving TAO on Monday night -- fresh off winning Most Improved Player at the NBA Awards -- and he told us all his squad needs in order to win a ring is a little LBJ. Then, he gave us his best pitch to the NBA's top player. "If you want to win, come to Indy!!"
As was the case with Paul last summer when he forced his way out with the Clippers, it remains possible that James could opt in to his current deal and force a trade to a team like the Rockets by making it clear that he’ll opt out and leave in free agency if the Cavs don’t comply. And while Houston is considered a longshot to land James, that isn’t about to keep Rockets general manager/newly-named Executive of the Year Daryl Morey from trying. According to a person with knowledge of their situation, the Rockets are still all in on pursuing James – even if Harden made it clear that it was hardly a necessity. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
But when it comes to the question of whether the Lakers can land James, no one seems to be able to predict who might join him as a co-star. [...] So might James head for the Lakers even if he couldn’t secure another All-Star? Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma, who as a player is not bound by the same rules of tampering, made it seem like a grand idea. “That man has been in the league for 15, going on 16 years, so the only person who really knows (what he’ll do) is him,” Kuzma told USA TODAY Sports. “He’s going to decide ultimately what he’s going to do. I have no clue. But as young players, we want to be known as those types of guys as well – the (high-profile) guys they’re trying to bring in. We want to be those guys, so you know you’re always going to have that (mixed feeling). But at the end of the day, you want to win, and having one of the greatest players of all time would definitely help that – on any team.”
The specifics of James’ process remain unclear, but there’s a good chance he won’t ultimately talk directly with officials from any team. As one person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports, it might be deemed unnecessary because of all the background work Paul, fellow Klutch agent Mark Termini and their associates have done leading up to this point. Put simply, they know the lay of this land and it’s up to James to tell them which situation makes the most sense.
Harden’s teammate Chris Paul is a close friend of James’. The “banana boat” group of Paul, James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony are called that because they vacationed together and were photographed on a banana boat. But Harden insists Paul isn’t pushing James with a recruiting pitch.
“Nahh,” Harden said. “Him and Chris are really tight. As a friend, him and Chris are really good friends. I don’t think they talk about him coming to Houston. I think they talk about basketball and if LeBron wants to say, ‘Hey, I’m thinking about coming your way,’ then that’s a discussion we can have. I don’t think they talk about it.”
Harden seems to be keeping a respectful distance. “Honestly, like, what, LeBron’s about to be in his 16th year in the league?,” Harden said. “I don’t think there’s anybody that can persuade him to go where he wants to go. I think it’s all up to him at this place in his career. He’s got three championships. It’s about business, it’s about family for him. Whether he wants to go to Houston or LA or stay in Cleveland, no GM, no friend, nobody can persuade him other than maybe his kids and his wife. Whatever he decides to do, he’ll do it.”
While James hasn't decided yet whether to pick up his player option, sources close to the situation tell ESPN that he has no intention of hearing elaborate pitch meetings from teams. James might meet or speak with a club official or owner at some point, but the elaborate presentations that have become common in NBA free agency over the years are unnecessary after 15 seasons in the league.
Ben Axelrod: For the first time in a long time, LeBron changed his Twitter avatar. But what does it mean? #LeBronWatch2018

http://twitter.com/BenAxelrod/status/1010918994285613056
Brian Windhorst: "My feel is that LeBron James is not picking up his player option - that LeBron is going into unrestricted free agency, and that will result basically in San Antonio and Houston being out of the mix. I think he will interact with [San Antonio and Houston], but I think it's Philadelphia, Cleveland or Los Angeles [Lakers], with Cleveland or L.A. being the two real choices and Philly sort of being there."
Nearly one week before LeBron James must inform the Cleveland Cavaliers whether he intends to pick up the option on his contract with the Cavs for next season, Cleveland general manager Koby Altman said he and James' camp have already established a "good dialogue." "We continue to have good dialogue with his management team," Altman said Thursday after the Cavs drafted Alabama point guard Collin Sexton with the No. 8 pick. "I think LeBron has more than earned the right to approach his contracts the way he does. He's done that before, so this is nothing new for us.
Cleveland went into the draft without knowing James' intentions for next season; he has spent this week on a family vacation, multiple sources told ESPN. James has until midnight on June 29 to pick up the option or choose to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
The #PhillyWantsLeBron campaign made it to New York City for the 2018 NBA draft. It started when Pennsylvania company, Power Home Remodeling, put up a series of billboards in Cleveland to ask LeBron James to join the 76ers and #CompleteTheProcess. The billboards got a response from James, who said they were “dope,” and resulted in Cleveland companies hitting back with their owns signs.
On Thursday before the draft, Power Home Remodeling struck again — this time, with airplanes. Per their news release, they paid to have three planes fly over Barclays Center and along the Hudson River for four hours, stopping around 7:30 p.m. ET, with the following messages: 23/Crown image + Liberty Bell image = GOAT image, Strive for GOAT-ness and #PhillyWantsLeBron

https://twitter.com/briancmahoney/status/1009890471441772544
Donovan, though, had a way simpler response on whether he also wants to bring LeBron James on board with the Jazz. "Would I want to [play with him]? Who wouldn't?" he said. But he also made it clear that the challenge of facing against the 4-time MVP feels better than playing with him. If I had a choice on playing [with] him or beating him, I'd rather beat him," said the reigning NBA Slam Dunk champion. "But if he wants to play with the Jazz, then we'll take him of course."
The Cavaliers will not know what LeBron James intends to do this summer when they execute their NBA draft plan Thursday, numerous sources told cleveland.com. James has until June 29 to exercise the $35.6 million player's option on his contract for next season, and if he lets it pass then he's an unrestricted free agent who could still return to Cleveland.
David Hardisty: According to @Adrian Wojnarowski, Chris Paul isn't focused on his own free agency as much as he is bringing talent to Houston. "Somebody close to (Paul) said to me that he has his focus on recruiting LeBron (to Houston) as anything he's done in this league."
Sagar Trika: Woj: LeBron James's decision won't be quick and will likely stretch into July. Implication here is that it can't be an opt-in-and-trade, as the player option deadline is June 29. Keep an eye on what he decides to do at the end of the month (a week from this upcoming Friday).
Adrian Wojnarowski: "The Cavaliers have to assume [LeBron's] leaving or they're gonna be put in an even more difficult position. It's never easy to have him walk out the door but they have contracts like Tristan Thompson and JR Smith that they're stuck with... He could have made this - if he wanted to be there and if he was going to be there he would have settled this [by now], and he hasn't. So it's obvious he's looking - that doesn't mean he won't stay, but they're gonna have to sweat it out if he does."
Adrian Wojnarowski: "I think there's gonna be a lot of action and trades - I think there's gonna be some trades up in the lottery. I think there's gonna be a lot of moving around. I think teams value guys at such different - there's not a great consensus after, really, after No. 1, there's not a consensus. So I think there'll be some teams get up higher and some teams trying to get out."
"Last summer, they could have acquired Paul George. " said Adrian Wojnarowski on the Adam Schefter podcast. "I think Paul George wanted to know, 'if LeBron commits to some years going forward, then I might be willing to commit.' "When LeBron wasn't willing to commit to an extension, that told me, they could have had Paul George without losing Kyrie. That's a very different team: Kyrie Irving, Paul George and LeBron James. "When he wasn't ready to do that then, Cleveland was worried and rightly so."
If it seems far-fetched, it’s because it likely is, but it is not out of step for Kanter and his outspoken style of leadership. While an entire league wonders where LeBron James will land this summer and whether he’ll re-tilt the NBA, Kanter has pinned the league’s best player to his personal Pinterest page. “I’m trying,” he said. “I don’t want to say it’s possible, whatever, but I’m trying. Let’s give him a shot. Why not? Might just get him. Never know.” He added: “I’m working, man. I need some help. I’m working on it. I think just because it’s New York. If he wins here he is the G.O.A.T. No question, he is the G.O.A.T. I think we have a good chance to get him, I guess.”
Hall of Fame center Shaquille O'Neal says he spent the past few seasons of his career chasing championships. He doesn't believe LeBron James should do the same thing. "My problem toward the end of my career was I was trying to shut everybody up and I was greedy [for more championships]," O'Neal said in an interview with ESPN at a pre-draft event on Friday evening for teens from the Y in Brooklyn.
Shaquille O’Neal: “After I got to three [titles], everybody was saying I couldn't get another. So I got four. After I got the fourth, they were saying I couldn't get another one. So I was trying to make quick stops to get it. Phoenix, Cleveland, Boston."
“LeBron's book is already set," O'Neal said. "He done already passed up legends; he done already made his mark -- he has three rings. His mentality now is probably: I want to get four before [Golden State Warriors guard] Steph [Curry] does. That's probably his mentality now. But if I was him, I wouldn't be trying to get four, five and six because it ain't going to matter. It's just something else to talk about, something else to add to the pages. He's a legend, talked about as who is the best between he and Michael Jordan, so he's set."
In recent weeks there has been mounting buzz — although much of it perhaps artificially created by the media — about the possibility of LeBron James signing with the Celtics in July. One league source called that possibility “unlikely,” but reiterated — just like with Leonard’s situation — that the Celtics will always be on alert for ways to acquire superstars, and James most certainly fits that bill.
“Right before they started the Finals against Golden State, I spent some time with Bron,” Haslem said to reporters during a visit to the Heat’s youth summer camp at South Broward High. “He was in Miami. Me, him and Dwyane got together and we spent some time together and we just chopped it up and we just talked.” James’ future was not discussed, though, with the visit actually coming between the Eastern Conference semifinals and finals. “That wasn’t part of the conversation,” Haslem said. “Obviously, he was getting ready for the NBA Finals.”
Haslem said he’s heard the speculation of a possible James-Heat reunion, with multiple Las Vegas sports books and ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith including Miami as one of the teams in the running for the 14-time All-Star. “That’s what everybody is saying and that’s what I’ve been hearing,” Haslem said. “Honestly, I hear it more on the outside than I have from him.”
Zach Karson: @JaredDudley619 as a future coach/GM, honest thoughts on chances LeBron teams up with Giannis in Milwaukee? Jared Dudley: 0% sorry 😂.. But The Greek Freak has arrived and is about to take over the league so don’t worry you’ll be fine.
As everyone wonders where LeBron James will be next season, Eagles QB Carson Wentz told reporters that he'd be happy to help the 76ers convince James to sign with Philadelphia. Wentz, who was in Cleveland with Zach Ertz to see the Warriors sweep the Cavaliers in Game 4 of the NBA Finals last week, says he didn't get to speak with James that night, but he hopes he knows they were there to watch him in person.
"Absolutely. I hope he's coming," Wentz said when asked if he'd be part of recruiting James if the Sixers asked him to help. "Ertz and I were there (at Game 4) the other night. Unfortunately, he lost and everything. I didn't really care who won in that game. But just seeing that, seeing him live, we decided to make it a recruiting trip."
What’s your reaction when you see the Heat mentioned as a potential destination for LeBron James? Josh Richardson: “Excitement. I’m not too excited because I don’t know what he wants to do or what he’s going to do. I mean I think we have great pieces to offer to play around him. We play with a lot of intensity. We’ve got a lot of dog in us. You need that in the trenches. That’s all I can really say about it.”
If Rob and Magic Johnson ask, would you be willing to attend their free-agent pitch meetings this summer as they try to attract stars like LeBron James and Paul George? Kobe Bryant: Well, no. I mean, I’ll call, but I’m not going to be in the meeting. Listen, I’m not part of the organization in any kind of professional way, right? If the players themselves have questions, [I’ll talk to them]. Or if the Lakers want me to reach out and call a player or something like that – if they want me to talk to the player and give my two cents on what it was like to play here and what this market is like – I’ll certainly do that. But in terms of being part of the meeting in any official way? The answer is no. But Rob and Magic both have great flexibility when it comes to the cap and they have great young talent. And I’ve known Rob for a long time; this dude is as smart as they come, so he’ll figure it out.
Chris Forsberg: Kyrie Irving on if he’d be open to reuniting with LeBron. "In this business, I've experienced it all and I've seen a lot so we'll see what management decides." Kyrie said he has not had any discussions about LeBron with management. pic.twitter.com/IzvjJIpv0j
Back-to-back NBA champion Kevin Durant appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live and was asked if he’d be excited if LeBron James could somehow join him on the Golden State Warriors to turn a superteam into, as Kimmel said, “the Harlem Globetrotters.” Durant’s response: “I just don’t think it’ll happen. I don’t want to go there. Somebody’s listening, (they’re) going to write something. I don’t know, I’ll stay on my side.”
Cassius Stanley, a top prospect for the program, and Pippen Jr. told USA TODAY Sports on Monday they had no knowledge of LeBron Jr. committing to Sierra Canyon. So if the rumor is true, the players on the team do not yet know.
“Anything could happen. People don’t look at everything. (LeBron James’) son just committed to Sierra Canyon which is in the valley of LA. That’s where his son is going to go to school [with] Scottie Pippen’s son and Kenyon Martin’s son. So, that’s a move that they’re going to make … if everybody looks at it with a son at that age, you don’t want to be away from him during that period of time. During the time that we’re having, basketball is school time. I think that (Bronny) needs a father during that time and that’s it. I don’t think LeBron is that type of parent, I think he wants to be around his son a lot and see his son a lot play.”
LeBron James will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 if he opts out of a $35.6 million player option in his current contract with the Cavaliers for next season. “To me, I don’t think it’s a basketball thing,” said Wade, who is James’ close friend and former teammate. “Obviously, you saw this year he can get to the Finals no matter what the circumstances are. I don’t really think the basketball decision of saying, ‘Oh, let me go team up with three All-Stars.’ I think at this point in his life, it’s more so of a lifestyle thing of where my family is going to be the most comfortable and where I’m going to be the most happiest at. Because basketball wise, he’s so great that he can bring along and take along whoever.”
The prominent ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith reported recently that James planned to speak to six teams in addition to the Cavaliers. Philadelphia, Houston, Miami and the Lakers were all mentioned — as were the juggernaut responsible for James’s 1-8 record in his last nine finals games (Golden State) and his longtime Eastern Conference nemesis (Boston). I’ve also been advised that the ever-persuasive San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich is bound to try to force his way into the conversation to sell James on the merits of South Texas.
My best forecast at this juncture? Fixate on Chris Paul. If Paul stays with the Rockets, Houston becomes a dangerous player, 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.
James will have three full weeks now to dig into the various options, study the landscape for the most fertile locales for title contention and, perhaps most crucially, make clandestine connections with the starry likes of Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and, yes, Paul and James Harden to explore the prospects of teaming up somewhere with stars of that ilk. But this is as far as I’ll go with guarantees before the LeBron Sweepstakes officially begin: James will not feel as though he owes Cleveland anything after these last four seasons.
LeBron James recruiting season is officially open, and Joel Embiid is wasting NO time in courting the King to jump to the city of brotherly love. We got Sixers superstar leaving Craig's Friday night -- a couple hours after the Cavs got swept out of the NBA Finals. -- and asked him about the not-so-subtle tweet he fired off as the game was ending. Joel hinted on social media, but he was way more direct with our photog. As he walked out, we asked him to explain the "find a new slant" comment ... and he said, LeBron needs to "find a new team ... Sixers!"

http://twitter.com/Brendan_Tobin/status/1005315548694138881
James has been on the record many times -- including in his coming home letter four years ago -- that he wants to finish his career in Cleveland. That is still the case. But a difficult year for the Cavs has made this a challenging time for James to consider how he wants to spend his final act.
James publicly held back his frustration so many nights during this postseason run, when teammates consistently let him down in critical road games. But it became clear by the end of this run he was upset with the composition of this roster. 20. He never wanted Kyrie Irving traded to Boston, and if he decides to leave, he can point back to that trade as the turning point in his decision to leave.
Sources close to James told ESPN that no conversations with Cleveland's brass about the four-time MVP's future with the franchise had occurred as of Friday night. In terms of James' strategy, there are no plans right now for the three-time champion other than spending time with his family, sources close to James told ESPN. He will inform his advisers when he is ready to talk about his potential options.
After being swept out of the NBA Finals by the Golden State Warriors with a 108-85 Game 4 loss, LeBron James said he has "no idea at this point" whether Friday was the last game he'll ever play with the Cleveland Cavaliers. "The one thing that I've always done is considered, obviously, my family," James said after putting up 23 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds while playing through a right hand injury. "Understanding especially where my boys are at this point in their age. They were a lot younger the last time I made a decision like this four years ago. I've got a teenage boy, a preteen and a little girl that wasn't around as well. So sitting down and considering everything, my family is a huge part of whatever I'll decide to do in my career, and it will continue to be that. So I don't have an answer for you right now as far as that."
And in a nutshell, he said LeBron should go to San Antonio. "Go to San Antonio. I think him being coached finally by an elite coach in Pop (Gregg Popovich) ... teaming up with a culture that's already been formed and great role players. Another superstar in Kawhi Leonard if he were to sign back with them (Spurs), I think LeBron fits in well with them. I just think that team, with LeBron James added, if he were to go West, can compete with anybody in the NBA."

http://twitter.com/DejounteMurray/status/1005290955149201408
Enes Kanter: Let the Fun begin 🙌🗽 #cLeaveLand

http://twitter.com/Enes_Kanter/status/1005291409405108224
No matter what decision LeBron James makes during free agency this summer, he will be in northeast Ohio come the end of July. In his hometown of Akron — where street signs bear his “King James” moniker, his high school gym is an unofficial shrine to his playing days there and a gigantic poster of him holding the Larry O’Brien Trophy in 2016 is plastered to the side of a building — James will be opening a public school July 30. He is the school’s largest individual donor.
Whether or not James is in a Cavaliers uniform next season, the foundation staff will be there managing the school. “It’s not easy, but it’s so rewarding,” Campbell said, her eyes welling with tears. “And it doesn’t matter where he plays basketball. He can play here. He can play in Chicago. He can go to LA, Philly, wherever the rumors are. It doesn’t really matter because this is bigger than basketball.”
It feels like LeBron James is gone from Cleveland this summer, but beyond that it’s really all just speculation. When LeBron and his team get serious about this, everything is on the table, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on The Jump. “There is no scenario that he will not do. There is no pathway he will not check out. He believes at this point in his career he has got a blank check. That everything he’s accomplished, his legacy his secure. If he wants to do something radical, he’ll do it. If he wants to play it safe, stay [in Cleveland], he’ll do it. And frankly he doesn’t care what any of us think about it.”
Rodney Hood: Obviously their number one priority is LeBron and seeing what he’s gonna do. I think they do want me in their future. They’ve told me that. But obviously the money has to be worked out and so I really don’t know exactly what has to happen. But for me it’s just about doing what’s best for me and my family. I think Cleveland is going to do what’s best for that organization, and LeBron is going to do what’s best for him, and everybody can respect that.
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.
So, could LeBron really join the Rockets? Chris Haynes of ESPN on the TK Show: "Houston has been linked a lot... I’ve been told that that’s not a realistic option."
ESPN’s Chris Haynes was a guest on the TK Show on CLNS Media and he too says, don’t sleep on the Celtics. “Let’s not overlook the Boston Celtics,” Haynes told host Tim Kawakami. “If Boston reached out and said we’re serious, LeBron would listen.”
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."
Storyline: LeBron James Free Agency
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August 11, 2022 | 2:12 am EDT Update

Robert Williams not available in potential trade involving Kevin Durant

There’s good reason for pessimism, Durant’s ultimatum to Nets owner Joe Tsai did not light a fire under trade talks. If anything, it made it far less likely a deal gets done in the short term. — why would Boston improve its offer now? It robbed the Nets of leverage. For example, Brooklyn was trying to get Boston to put Smart in the trade, but why would they even consider it now? That said, even without Smart (or Robert Williams III, sources told NBC Sports he is not available), a Celtics offer with Jaylen Brown may be the best one the Nets will see.
Ric Bucher: I’ve been assured that this is correct in spite of another report that says it never happened. And that’s as far as I’ll go with that, too. I’m not going to punch down. Ben Simmons was in a group chat with some of the other teams players. And on it, they asked Ben if he was playing in game four. And not only did he not answer, he dropped out of the chat. Now, as I said, there’s another reporter out there who suggested the event never happened. I’m well aware that that reporter has, let’s say he has vested interests in painting things a certain way. And again, I will leave it at that his comments prompted me to go back and double check with my source. And that source insists that it did indeed happen, and explain why someone might report it another way. So I’m sticking with it.
Patrick Beverley is not one to whine about getting moved from one team to another. The Utah Jazz guard recently addressed claims from fans about how the Minnesota Timberwolves “did him wrong when in fact that sentiment goes completely against how he views and interprets his offseason fate. Here’s Patrick Beverley going full Jay-Z, referencing the GOAT’s “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man” bar in explaining why he is thankful to the Timberwolves franchise.
Still, Caleb Canales’ decision to leave the NBA and coach in Mexico is not without risk. Broadening his experience on an international stage could help him get back to the league and to the job of his dreams, but his leap of faith could also be ignored. Despite a growing stable of foreign-born superstars and the NBA’s expansion to new markets overseas, the league has been slow to embrace coaches with international experience. European champions like David Blatt and Igor Kokoskov came and went last decade, as did successful foreign-born assistants like Etore Messina. “The coaching side, you always have to be ready to adapt and adjust,” Canales says.
While skepticism may remain in some NBA circles regarding the value of international coaching experience, there’s no doubt the league is putting effort in to diversify its coaching ranks overall. As of the 2022 offseason, half the league is led by Black head coaches. Nash and Kerr were born outside the U.S., and Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra is Filipino-American. Canales credits the work of David Fogel, executive director of the National Basketball Coaches Association, and Karen Marrero, its director of communications, for things improving over the last few seasons. “They’ve been so creative, and they’ve been so willing to help us, as coaches,” he stresses, highlighting the coaching profiles as well as a newly deployed coaches database the NBCA has set up to assist teams in finding and hiring talent outside the same small coaching pool.