LeBron James rumors have continued to swirl around the league even as the NBA now heads into its final run before this year’s playoffs. With the trade deadline behind, the Cleveland Cavaliers are secured of James’ services for the rest of the season. This summer’s free agency period would be a different story, though.
James’ upcoming unrestricted free-agency has been the talk of the town since the beginning of the season. The three-time NBA champion was linked to a lot of teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, and Philadelphia 76ers. The speculations went louder when the Cavaliers struggled to find wins with their former lineup composed of Isaiah Thomas, Derrick Rose, and Dwyane Wade.
After those three players and Jae Crowder, Channing Frye, and Iman Shumpert were traded at the deadline, the rumors suddenly calmed down. Still, some analysts believe that Cleveland is not a sure destination for LeBron once he hits the open market in July.
In a poll conducted by ESPN during the All-Star break, NBA players themselves believe that Cavaliers superstar LeBron James would most probably stay in Cleveland next season. However, the results did not stop the sports news outlet from giving its own suggestions and predictions on where the King would “find his throne” this summer.
In an ESPN article titled “Destination LeBron,” Adam Reisinger listed down eight teams that are potential landing spots for James in free agency this offseason. The last team he mentioned was the San Antonio Spurs, and he discussed two ways on how the Texas club can snag James out of Cleveland.
First, Reisinger said that the Spurs would have to free up as much salary cap space this summer by letting go of Tony Parker, Danny Green, and Rudy Gay, who can all become unrestricted free agents this July, with the latter two both having player options. Trading veteran big man Pau Gasol “to a team with cap space” would have to be done as well to accommodate LeBron’s huge salary.
The second option, which is the “path of less resistance” as Reisinger had coined it, would be to start discussing a deal with the Cavaliers for a one-on-one swap for either LaMarcus Aldridge or Kawhi Leonard. Reisinger particularly mentioned the James-Leonard trade to be a “seismic move” that would affect the entire landscape of the NBA moving forward.
Leonard, 26, is six years younger than LeBron and is also considered a top-5 player and one of the best two-way performers in the NBA right now. The former NBA Finals MVP has been struggling with injuries as of late, playing only nine games this season, but there are rumors that the Spurs are merely preserving him for the bigger battles of the playoffs.
Leonard’s performance in the postseason, if the Spurs decide to activate him at that time, would definitely help make the Cavaliers approve of a LeBron-Kawhi trade. However, as it stands right now, such a deal is a long shot as both clubs seem to be quite satisfied with the status of their own star players in their respective sides.