NBA Rumors: Cavs’ LeBron James Likely To Stay In Cleveland, But Two Teams Have Chance, Per ‘ESPN’ Panel

David ZalubowskiAP Images

The NBA rumors involving which team will land free agent LeBron James this offseason continue to rage on, but a panel of experts believe he’ll stay put. After leaving and returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers, it appears that may be the most likely move for “King James” to close out his career. However, the various experts have pegged a few teams as the strongest contenders for LeBron when he hits free agency this summer.

In ESPN‘s report on Thursday, they present various topics related to LeBron James’ career, including how many more titles he’ll win and how many seasons he’ll play in the league. In addition, they discuss what will help him become “G.O.A.T.” and where James will rank amongst the greatest players in basketball history. Of those topics mentioned, it’s believed that LeBron is most likely to win one more NBA title before his storied career is finished. It’s also suggested that he has four or five more seasons left before he’s finished creating his basketball legacy.

The question remains as to where he’ll be playing when the 2018-19 NBA season arrives. There have been strong rumors suggesting that the Los Angeles Lakers were preparing their roster to try to sign LeBron along with one other big star, such as Paul George. In addition, the Philadelphia 76ers have been campaigning for James, and the Houston Rockets have been doing so just based on how well the team is doing this season. Nonetheless, the experts have weighed in at ESPN, and believe James is going nowhere.

lebron james has won nba championship for cleveland
LeBron James has already won an NBA title in Cleveland and more could help his case for the best of all-time.Featured image credit: Marcio Jose SanchezAP Images

The panel’s “forecast results” for LeBron’s team next season give him a 36.5 percent chance of staying with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The list below, via the ESPN report, shows the top five vote-getting teams that the panel chose with first-place votes in parentheses.

LeBron’s Potential Team Next Season:

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers 36.5 (21)
  2. Los Angeles Lakers 22.1 (7)
  3. Houston Rockets 21.7 (10)
  4. Philadelphia 76ers 12.3 (3)
  5. San Antonio Spurs 2.5 (0)

As seen in the chart below, the experts are giving Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs the slimmest of chances of landing LeBron next season. However, the Lakers and Rockets both rank relatively close on the list to the Cavs. Interestingly, 10 first-place votes went to Houston, a team that looks like they are dominating already. However, the addition of LeBron James would certainly put them over the top and give them that third member of a “big three” to really take over. Just the idea of the combination of James Harden, Chris Paul, and LeBron James should give the Warriors and other teams nightmares.

As far as the Los Angeles Lakers go, they’re young and looking to improve. Magic Johnson wants to add superstars, but he’ll be adding them to a team full of several unproven players with star potential. The team also features “veteran” guard Isaiah Thomas. The former All-Star was sent to the Lakers by the Cavs in a trade to rejuvenate their own roster, which could show that he wasn’t a good fit for LeBron. It’s unlikely that Cleveland pulled off this deal for any reason other than to try to give LeBron a better supporting cast. Shipping Thomas out of Cleveland also seems to be a vote against LeBron teaming up with him, but one never knows.

It should be mentioned that the experts talked about what LeBron James needs most to help cement his legacy and be considered the “Greatest Of All Time” by the time his career has ended. While some experts feel “He’s already there,” others contended that he needed to be more “like Mike” and stay with one team for his career, helping them win championships. That would mean the Cavs. However, there are a few experts who feel at least one more NBA title victory in Cleveland will be enough, so staying in the city he loves seems like a logical choice next season.