Alex Kennedy: If you’re betting on LeBron James to the Lakers, you’d have to bet $5,000 just to make $100. (In other words, they think LeBron to L.A. is a done deal.)
Ramona Shelburne: ESPN producer @Jlshobar shot this of LeBron’s plane landing in LA this morning. Why is he here? Said one source, “He lives here in the summer.”
LeBron James has touched down at Van Nuys Airport in Los Angeles, hours ahead of 2018 NBA free agency. While James owns property in LA, the timing of the visit coupled with the absence of a meeting scheduled with Cleveland suggests that his presence in the area could certainly be related to his next free-agent move.
I will continue to say that James owes the Cavaliers nothing, and has nothing to fear about damaging his legacy, if he decides to leave Cleveland again, after delivering in 2016 the championship he promised. I also reject the notion that James will pick the Lakers only if Leonard or George, or both, will join him.
Remember: The most definitive thing we know so far about James’s free-agency leanings is his disclosure after the finals that family considerations will play a bigger role than they have before. If his family decides Los Angeles is where it wants to be full time, it’s not difficult to envision James making the leap with great belief that his presence will help Magic flank him with the requisite help eventually, if not immediately.
When NBA free agency officially opens up Sunday at 12:01 a.m. ET, the Cleveland Cavaliers will not meet in person with LeBron James or his representatives, sources told ESPN. James' camp and the Cavs front office has been in regular dialogue since the season ended, sources said, and James' agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, informed the Cavs on Friday morning that the four-time MVP would not be opting in to the final year of his contract with Cleveland worth $35.6 million.
Paul, who represents several other players entering into free agency -- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Nerlens Noel among them -- will conduct all his business over the phone when free agency begins, sources told ESPN.
A league source familiar with the Cavs' thinking told ESPN that the franchise has found it difficult to plan for its full team around James with the way he has approached his free agency and it could manifest itself in hesitancy by potential free agent signees or teams interested in trades, from completing deals with Cleveland in the interim. Yet whatever pitfalls that might come with how James goes about his decision, the Cavs, according to the source, are still very much hoping to re-sign him because.
The Cavaliers do not intend to trade Kevin Love if they lose LeBron James in free agency this summer, and would rather try to make the playoffs than immediately begin rebuilding without their iconic star. Sources told cleveland.com this week that the Cavs would not trade Love, a five-time All-Star who is owed about $50 million over the next two seasons, if James leaves as a free agent. Sources say James is strongly considering joining the Los Angeles Lakers. "There is no reason to go backwards," one source said, describing the Cavs' situation.
If James does return to the Cavs, or signals to them that he wants to, no one on the roster would be untouchable from a trade perspective. Cleveland wants to develop its young talent -- including rookie point guard Collin Sexton -- but wouldn't pass up the right opportunity to add an established veteran with James to improve their chances of reaching another Finals, sources indicated.
The Cavs have tried unsuccessfully to engage James this summer, according to multiple sources. He has again left Paul to handle all of his communication. James has been much more proactive in past summers working with the Cavs than he has been since the Finals ended in a sweep. He recruited for the Cavs in past summers, from calling Kevin Love to join him the summer he returned to pursuing Jamal Crawford last summer. The Cavs disagreed with him on Crawford and signed Cedi Osman instead.
Two years ago, in the weeks and months after the city’s championship parade, the Cavs privately began mentioning the possibility James could leave for Los Angeles in the summer of 2018. Now it could be days from happening.
As Paul George considers the Lakers in free agency and Kawhi Leonard tries to force his way from San Antonio to Los Angeles, those around James insist trade negotiations between the Lakers and Spurs will not influence James’ decision.
Harrison Faigen: On Woj/Lowe ESPN special, Lowe says the Cavs were selling it as a win that LeBron opted out because he only would've opted in to be traded
Harrison Faigen: "I believe that the Lakers have the inside track on getting LeBron"- Windhorst on SportsCenter
Dave McMenamin: Had LeBron opted in, that would have been a bad sign for Cleveland -- it would basically have meant that his camp had a trade partner lined up. As it stands now, CLE is still in the mix. According to a Cavs source, the team's "Plan A, B & C in free agency is to keep LeBron"
Joe Vardon: LeBron James’ agent informed the Cavs he will not exercise his $35.6 million option and thus will become an unrestricted free agent, sources told @clevelanddotcom ... Story coming
James had until 11:59 p.m. on Friday to pick up the option, which would have kept him in Cleveland for at least one more season. James' agent Rich Paul notified the Cavs of his decision Friday morning. The emotional side to this is obvious, James is separating from the Cavs again (for the third time in four years) with no guarantees that he'll re-sign. Sources suggested to cleveland.com that his interest in joining the iconic Los Angeles Lakers is strong.
Bobby Marks: Not surprised by the LeBron decision. The impact is that a sign and trade (see Houston) would likely be off the table because of the hard cap and the pool of teams now shrink to a possible 3.....Cleveland, LA Lakers and Philadelphia.
Ira Winderman: LeBron James opts out of Cavs deal, seemingly eliminating Heat chances. sun-sentinel.com/sports/miami-h… Forward now becomes a free agent Sunday.
ESPN Cleveland: "To me, the longer this has gone on, the more I've come to feel (LeBron) is going to stay in Cleveland for another year and do this all over again next summer." - @Tom Withers on RBS
LeBron James has until the end of June 29th to exercise his opt-in for the 18-19 season and in the interiim, there have been reports of James communicating with Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant and Paul George. "The LeBron operation, I don't know how else to put it, but they have basically thrown cold water and vehemently denied everything that has been out there the last couple of days," said Brian Windhorst. "They have denied that he is communicating with Kawhi Leonard. They have denied he is communicating with Kevin Durant about joining up in Los Angeles. They have denied there is a three-way conversation going on between Paul George, Kawhi and LeBron. They have denied that Kawhi being traded to the Lakers would clinch LeBron going to the Lakers. "They have pretty much denied that any of that is happening.
"Clearly, LeBron is keeping a very close eye on the Lakers. This is my read on the situation: if he opts into his contract, that it pretty much closes the door on him going to the Lakers. It doesn't necessarily guarantee that he is staying with the Cavs, but I think it's a really good sign that he will. "If he opts out of the contract, I don't necessarily think that it means he is leaving the Cavs, but I do think it bodes better for the Lakers if he does that. "There are other teams involved; obviously Houston, Philadelphia etc. But I really think this is a Cleveland or L.A. decision.
The possibility of James and Leonard teaming up with the Lakers does not appear to be directed by the two of them communicating with each other. "As for Kawhi, I have been assured very strongly that LeBron has not communicated with Kawhi, not only during this process but for a very long time. He has really not spoken to him and expressed a desire to play with each other."
A league source told GetMoreSports.com that Pat Riley and the Miami Heat should not be counted out of the equation, because the key to getting LeBron is being able to get Kawhi. And if you think Riles would not relish an opportunity to get the better of Magic Johnson, you probably did not know that Riley was drafted as a wide receiver by the Dallas Cowboys in the 11th round of the 1967 NFL Draft and owns the trademark to the term “three-peat.”
Alex Kennedy: Several veterans have told me they'd settle for a minimum deal with the Lakers if they land LeBron James. All eyes will be on L.A. and very few teams have cap room this summer, so they'd have no trouble adding complementary pieces to fill out the roster: hoopshype.com/2018/06/29/los…
But the Los Angeles Lakers and the Philadelphia 76ers have been pressing the Spurs to trade Leonard this week, as both teams believe that acquiring Leonard would put them in pole position to try to sign LeBron James away from the Cleveland Cavaliers when free agency starts Sunday at 12:01 a.m., Eastern time. The Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Clippers are also known trade suitors for Leonard.
The stakes on these talks are enormous, because a deal for Leonard would likely clinch a free agent commitment out of LeBron James. James has until late Friday night to opt-out of the final year of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and is watching closely how the Lakers proceed with the Leonard talks.
As much as the Cavs appreciate Perkins as a locker room presence, the decision is simply a salary-cap ploy in order to try to aggregate the veteran center's $2.5 million salary along with an existing contract in order to pursue a trade around the league. Team sources told ESPN that the Cavs "continue to explore all options to improve" heading into LeBron James' decision about his future with the franchise.
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.
Then Embiid, who paired with Rookie of the Year favorite Ben Simmons this season to end the 76ers’ five-year playoff drought, said something revealing about potentially adding James. “He’s the best player in the league at this moment, so I think he takes us to another level, which is important because at the end of the day, I want to be a champion," said Embiid. "I want to do it myself. I want to have a lot to do with winning a championship or bringing a championship back to the city of Philadelphia.”
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.
Should James become a free agent, league sources believe he and his agents Rich Paul and Mark Termini have enough understanding of the stakes and NBA landscape to handle the process without much fanfare.
Ben Axelrod: For the first time in a long time, LeBron changed his Twitter avatar. But what does it mean? #LeBronWatch2018
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.
Dave McMenamin: Koby Altman on LeBron James: “We continue to have good dialogue with his management team. LeBron has more than earned the right to approach his contracts the way he does”
ESPN Cleveland: Windhorst: I don't think LeBron looks at the #Cavs and says they are that far away. I think he believes if they had one more good player, things would have been a lot different this year. Maybe getting Kemba Walker could be that player.
And that can be true if LeBron James ends up in Milwaukee. “Why not?”, says Giannis: “He will be a great fit, he went eight times to the Finals and that means that if LeBron James signs with us, we are going to the Finals”.
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
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."
“You know what if they don’t get two…I don’t think they’re getting one. LeBron is not going there alone…so 50.” - @TheSteinLine on the percentage if the Lakers acquire one player
"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.”
Barry Jackson: Josh Richardson, on LeBron: "We have great pieces to offer [for him] to play around."
Dwyane Wade said LeBron James‘ upcoming free-agency decision would be primarily about “lifestyle.” If so, that doesn’t bode well for the Rockets. Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal on ESPNLA: I heard this from his own lips when we were in Houston this season. He does not like Houston as a city. So, that would require him moving to a place that he’s not crazy about.
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.
ESPN Los Angeles: “I just think the Lakers are the clearest…simplest path because they have the space to sign him…and they have the availability in L.A. to create a second max slot without having to do much.” - @wojespn on L.A. signing LeBron James
Fred Katz: Kyrie on if he'd be open to playing with LeBron: "In this business, I've experienced it all and I've seen a lot so we'll see what management decides."
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.
League sources are split on what the Cavaliers will do with the no. 8 pick. Some think they’ll play it conservative and use the selection, rather than risk trading it to appease LeBron, only for him to leave. If they keep the pick, consider Alabama point guard Collin Sexton a strong possibility.
SLAM Magazine: Gary Payton said Bronny James is committed to Sierra Canyon School in Los Angeles (via @sheena_marie3)
“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.”
August 14, 2022 | 7:33 pm EDT Update
August 14, 2022 | 5:21 pm EDT Update
Michael Singer: After getting bypassed for a Christmas game last season, the #Nuggets are slated to host the Suns on Christmas this year according to the initial draft of the schedule, a league source told @denverpost.
Shams Charania: The first Lakers-Clippers game of the 2022-23 NBA season is scheduled for Oct. 20 at Crypto.com Arena, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. LeBron James-Anthony Davis vs. Kawhi Leonard-Paul George again for first time since Dec. 22, 2020.