LeBron James has been connected to at least half a dozen teams in the NBA rumor mill — including the Lakers, Clippers, 76ers — but with no better options than the one he has right now, King James could end up staying in Cleveland once free agency starts for him this summer.
The speculation about LeBron’s upcoming free agency has been going strong for more than a year now, with a number of reports claiming that he wants to move to Los Angeles, where he has an offseason home. But as the Cleveland Cavaliers continue to march through the NBA playoffs and move ever-closer to a fourth straight NBA Finals appearance, Brian Windhorst of ESPN thinks that LeBron may decide to stay put for the foreseeable future.
Appearing on Adrian Wojnarowski’s podcast this week, Windhorst said that the Cavaliers could still be one of the strongest contenders for James. The teams he has been connected to are all on the verge of being contenders, but the Cavaliers remain the cream of the crop in a much less competitive Eastern Conference. The Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics appear to be mounting a stronger challenge to the Cavaliers, but James and the Cavaliers would still be favorites — if he were to return.
Windhorst said much will depend on what the Cavaliers do with the first-round draft pick they acquired from the Brooklyn Nets. He noted that James may prefer to see the team use that pick as trade bait for a more established player, as James is more concerned with remaining the top contender in the Eastern Conference than using a few years on developing a new player.
There have been plenty of other reports speculating that LeBron James will be on the move next year. As Bleacher Report noted, there are even betting outfits offering odds on where James will be next season. The Cavaliers are the odds-on favorite at 5-to-4, but the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, and Philadelphia 76ers are not far behind.
How the rest of the NBA Playoffs plays out could be a major factor in determining where LeBron ends up. The Cavaliers are now meeting the over-achieving Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, and could be heading for yet another meeting with the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. If the Cavaliers could win, it may be a major incentive for James to stay and defend his title.