LeBron James may still have a grueling NBA Finals ahead of him, but some of his close NBA friends are already looking to where he might be playing next year.
James has been at the center of NBA rumors for more than a year, with reports that he may bolt the Cleveland Cavaliers when he becomes a free agent later this summer. Though the Los Angeles Lakers have been a popular pick should he leave the Cavs, Chris Paul is now trying to get his longtime friend to join him in Houston, the New York Times is reporting.
Beat reporter Marc Stein noted that Paul got to work as soon as the Rockets suffered a devastating Game 7 loss to the Golden State Warriors, trying to assemble an even more super super-team next year.
“Rest assured that the Rockets’ understandably devastated Chris Paul — who made a fast exit from Toyota Center late Monday night after being forced to watch the biggest game of his life from the bench because of his hamstring injury — has already begun his recruitment of James to Houston.”
There are still plenty of factors around the NBA rumors, including LeBron’s relationship with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert. As SB Nation noted, James was a bit cagey when asked if his sometimes strained relationship with Gilbert would affect his free agency decision, though the NBA All-Star has never wavered in his commitment to the franchise itself.
“I’ve tried to put this franchise at a level that is always seen in a positive light,” James told ESPN. “From a basketball standpoint, from a social standpoint, from a brand standpoint. I get a lot of the light and the headlines, but I’m one, as long as I’m here playing for this franchise, when you see the Cavaliers, I want you to think of prestige and a great organization.”
LeBron was upset when the team let general manager David Griffin go last summer, but they have given James plenty of say over the roster and allowed him to craft it to his liking. It is not clear if any of the other teams in the running to land James this summer — including the Houston Rockets — would give him similar say over personnel decisions.
Though there is a strong class headed to free agency — along with Kawhi Leonard, who could be on the trading block — the bulk of the attention has been on where LeBron James will play next season.
While the NBA rumors around LeBron James are building as free agency approaches, James himself has never given any indication that he is planning to leave Cleveland, and betting outfits agree. A number of them have put odds on where LeBron will end up next year, and the Cavaliers remain odds-on favorites.