NBA Rumors: LeBron James Free Agency Destinations Include The Lakers And Heat — Will He Leave Cleveland?

Only three days after completing a miraculous comeback victory against the Golden State Warriors to win the 2016 NBA championship, LeBron James is already involved in various rumors connecting him to a few different teams in free agency. After leaving Cleveland for the Miami Heat in 2010, James returned to the Cavaliers before the 2014-2015 season in order to deliver a championship to the city of Cleveland. While it may seem unlikely that James would leave Cleveland again, he has now delivered his promise to the fans and the city, and he could be leaving for greener pastures this summer. Teams cannot officially sign free agents for a few more weeks, but the latest rumors believe that the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat are possible destinations for James.

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As reported by CBS Sports, Stephen A. Smith of ESPN recently said that there is a very real possibility that James does not re-sign with the Cavaliers.

“From what I’ve been told, the Lakers and Heat are possibilities as a destination for LeBron James this summer.”

In addition to Smith’s sources saying that James could join the Lakers or Heat, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical has confirmed the rumors.

“One more victory, one more magnificent night at Oracle Arena, and James will get to run off with his buddies again somewhere warm. Miami. Los Angeles. Wherever. There’s a restlessness about James that craves the next big move, the next power play. Franchises are on watch again, believing nothing’s forever in Northeast Ohio. Sooner or later, there’s a belief that James comes into play again, a line of thinking that his inner circle has done nothing to dissuade. As for James himself, well, he has gone so far as to publicly describe an end-of-career scenario that doesn’t include Cleveland.”

While James may not see his career ending in Cleveland, that does not mean that he will definitely leave this summer. While the Cavaliers were not the best team in the regular season this year, they did come together during the playoffs. With a roster that includes Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, J.R. Smith, and Tristan Thompson, Cleveland is still an appealing destination for James. In addition to being close to his hometown, Cleveland also gives James the chance to win another championship next year.

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Regardless of the potential in Cleveland, Los Angeles and Miami have their own benefits. While James’ exit in Miami was apparently rocky with certain members of the organization, it still has to be an attractive destination. While Wade is getting older and Bosh has health concerns, the Heat were still an extremely formidable team last year. James would instantly make the Heat a favorite to win the Eastern Conference. In addition to joining a great team, James would also enjoy the benefit of not having to pay state income tax in Florida.

While the Lakers are not currently a good team, Los Angeles is always an attractive destination for players. With Kobe Bryant retired, James could take over as the star player of a historic franchise. In addition to D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle, the Lakers also hold the No. 2 pick in tomorrow’s NBA draft. It is unlikely that the Lakers would be title contenders next year with James, but they would be a much better team with a bright future.

LeBron James is going to have to make an important decision over the next few weeks. While returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers is still the most logical scenario, certain NBA insiders believe that James could be heading to the Los Angeles Lakers or Miami Heat. Rumors will likely continue to emerge, but nothing is final until James officially signs his next contract.

Update: Shortly after publishing this article, Cleveland stated that James has verbally told them that he will return to the Cavaliers next season.

[Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images]