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.
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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.”
Dwyane Wade: Let’s let the record show.. I don’t have any inside information whatsoever about his decision! twitter.com/chrisfedor/sta…
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.”
Diamond Leung: Kenyon Martin: “I think LeBron coming to the Knicks..just because of the way he approaches things, the way he wants his legacy to be I think coming to a franchise that hasn’t done anything of late.” newyork.cbslocal.com/audio/the-afte…
D’Angelo Russell: Bron to the Spurs #waitonIt
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!”
Spencer Dinwiddie: Lmao I’m sorry to say this but to all the BK fans asking me/us to recruit Bron. He ain’t coming here lol I’m not even gonna sell y’all that dream. BUT We got @Jarrett Allen future top 5 C in the league. Just be patient
Brendan Tobin: Justise Winslow starts the @MiamiHEAT recruiting early
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.”
Tania Ganguli: LeBron James said he came back because he had unfinished business. Is asked if one championship finishes that business. “That’s a trick question, I’m not falling for that,” he says.
Tania Ganguli: LeBron says a lot has changed since the last time he made a free agent decision. Mentioned his kids being older. Said he will sit down with his family and make a decision.
Malika Andrews: LeBron was asked if this was his last game with the Cavs. “I have no idea at this point,” he said. James spoke about weighing his options with his family.
Joel Embiid: Trust The Process!!!! Find a new slant @KingJames
Enes Kanter: Let the Fun begin 🙌🗽 #cLeaveLand
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.
The challenge is finding the best situation out there that puts James on something more closely resembling a level playing field with the Warriors and their four All-Stars. “Everyone is trying to figure that out,” James acknowledged Thursday.
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.”
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
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.”
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June 20, 2018 | 12:00 am EDT Update
San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard met with coach Gregg Popovich on Tuesday in San Diego, league sources told Yahoo Sports. The meeting between the two faces of the Spurs’ franchise was done professionally and confidentially, league sources said.
The Spurs’ front office and Leonard’s representatives had been in communication since the season ended, and Leonard has been in contact with coach Gregg Popovich, league sources said. Leonard spent most of the second half of the season rehabbing his injury in New York, where his medical team was based and where he trained with Spurs staffers. He has returned close to full health from the lingering quad injury.
Jabari Young: Told Kawhi and Popovich did meet today, described as a “good” conversation. Expecting more dialogue in the future #Spurs #NBA
June 19, 2018 | 11:49 pm EDT Update
San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich traveled Tuesday to Southern California and met with Kawhi Leonard prior to Thursday’s NBA draft, league sources told ESPN.
Leonard wants a trade to Los Angeles, preferably the Lakers over the Clippers, league sources said. He has privately maintained that he no longer wants to play in San Antonio, and will eventually alert rival teams considering trades for him that his intentions are to sign in Los Angeles — preferably with the Lakers — when he can become a free agent in 2019, league sources said. The Spurs are unlikely to be motivated to facilitate a deal to the Lakers, league sources said.