The NBA rumors surrounding LeBron James are already kicking into high gear, with reports that the Cleveland Cavaliers star and NBA Finals MVP could soon be looking for a new team.
There have long been rumors that James might test free agency this summer when his one-year deal with the Cavaliers expires. Now, as the Cavaliers closed out an unprecedented comeback from down three games to one to win the 2016 NBA Finals, James is once again thrown in the middle of free agency rumors.
On ESPN, Stephen A. Smith noted that the Los Angeles Lakers could actually be in strong contention to land LeBron.
“I’m hearing that its a huge possibility that if he leaves Cleveland the Lakers could be in the mix,” Smith said during a segment on ESPN’s First Take.
That would be an interesting destination, with James inheriting a team forging a new identity and looking for a new superstar after the departure of Kobe Bryant.
There are also plenty of fans poking fun at the seemingly endless NBA rumors surrounding the possibility of LeBron James entering free agency. Many noted how ESPN didn’t give LeBron a moment to enjoy his third NBA title before starting the speculation of where free agency might bring him.
The NBA rumors aren’t getting much of a boost from LeBron James himself. The Cavaliers forward seems nothing but ecstatic to have brought the first championship to Cleveland in more than 50 years and after the deciding Game 7 talked about what a good decision it was for him to come home.
“When I decided to leave Miami,” James said via the Sun Sentinel, “I’m not going to name any names, I can’t do that. But there were some people that I trusted and built relationships with in those four years [who] told me I was making the biggest mistake of my career.”
“And that… hurt me. And I know it was an emotional time that they told me that because I was leaving. They just told me it was the biggest mistake I was making in my career. And that right there was my motivation.”
James talked about the heartbreak that Cleveland has seen through the years — “the Earnest Byner fumble, Elway going 99 yards, to Jose Mesa not being able to close out in the bottom of the ninth” and his own Cavaliers team losing twice — and said he was grateful that the fans have been so loyal.
“And our fans, they ride or die, no matter what’s been going on, no matter the Browns, the Indians, the Cavs and so on, and all other sports teams. They continue to support us,” he said. “And for us to be able to end this, end this drought, our fans deserve it. They deserve it. And it was for them.”
It was LeBron James who almost single-handedly brought the Cavaliers back from the deficit. He scored back-to-back 41-point games to force Game 7 and then took over in the clinching game, notching a triple-double and chasing down and blocking Andre Iguodala’s layup attempt in the final two minutes to prevent what would have been a go-ahead basket. Kyrie Irving later hit a go-ahead three-pointer and James sank a free throw with 10 seconds remaining to ice the game and seal the win for the Cavaliers.
So while the NBA rumors surrounding LeBron James are still swirling, many experts believe he will return again to Cleveland, likely on another one-year contract that lets him assess the NBA landscape and take advantage of a higher salary cap.
[Photo by Eric Risberg/AP Images]