Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James will make another controversial decision this offseason. Though he has not yet released any statement regarding his offseason plan, most people believe James will opt out of the final year of his contract with the Cavaliers and become an unrestricted free agent. In the past months, several NBA teams have been linked to the 33-year-old All-Star forward, but only a few of them will have the opportunity to have a meeting with James when 2018 NBA free agency officially starts.
In a recent podcast (h/t Deadspin), Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst of ESPN talked about LeBron James and his impending free agency. Windhorst believes James will test the free agency market and has narrowed down his list of preferred destinations to three NBA teams – the Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers, and the Cavaliers.
“My feel is that LeBron is not picking up that option, that LeBron is going to unrestricted free agency and that will result, basically with San Antonio and Houston being out of the mix. I think he will interact with them, but I think it’s Philly, Cleveland, or LA — with Cleveland and LA being the two real choices.”
The exclusion of the Rockets on LeBron James’ list of free agency destinations is surprising considering the fact that they are the only team in the league who gave the Golden State Warriors a tough competition in the recent playoffs. The Rockets also have Chris Paul, a close pal of James and a member of the famous Banana Boat Crew. However, recent reports from Stephen A. Smith of ESPN (h/t USA Today Sports) revealed that Paul, himself, has accepted the fact that James won’t come to Houston in free agency.
Updated sense on LBJ front after talking to folks last night— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) June 26, 2018
1) Rockets still all in on pursuing him, even if it’s a longshot
2) LeBron may not talk to any teams personally (reps leading the way)
3) Lakers buzz remains, but no clarity on who might join https://t.co/hHyn3CkZks
Meanwhile, the Lakers and the Sixers are the most intriguing destinations for James. They are two of the few teams in the league who can create enough salary cap space to give James a maximum contract together with another NBA superstar like Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Also, both teams have a plethora of trade assets to engage in a blockbuster deal that could give James another quality player who can help him win an NBA championship title next season.
With winning as one of his main priorities in free agency, it still remains a big question why LeBron James will consider returning to the Cavaliers for another season. Cleveland, as currently constructed, is not built to beat the Warriors in a best-of-seven series. They also don’t have the salary cap flexibility to sign other NBA superstars aside from James and have limited trade assets to acquire the likes of Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Hornets or Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs.
Still, anything is possible until James officially announces “The Decision Part III.” Expect more rumors to circulate around James as the 2018 NBA free agency draws near.