The real free-agency period in the NBA begins Sunday. But the fun begins on Thursday.
While no players can sign with other teams until the calendar says July 1, the time to opt out of contracts – if the player has such a clause – arrives now.
And that means LeBron James could be leaving Cleveland … again.
He has played 11 of his 15 NBA seasons in his native Northeast Ohio, leaving for Miami and the Heat for the other four, during which he twice won NBA championships. Now, at 33, what does he want and where will he find it?
LeBron is widely expected to decline his one-year option worth $35.6 million, setting in motion numerous wheels that might spin in vain.
He could sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, as he already owns a mansion in L.A. and has a budding entertainment business. He might go with the young and restless Philadelphia 76ers. Or he might simply extract a new contract from the Cavaliers and let them build around him. Say what you will about that roster, but it went to the NBA Finals again (yes, mostly because LeBron dragged the guys along). Imagine if there were another reliable scorer to take some of the weight off LeBron.
Plenty of other players will be on the market – DeMarcus Cousins, Paul George, Marcus Smart – who can instantly improve whichever team they join. But they are not LeBron.
There is only one king – King James. Where will he try to build his next empire?
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