LeBron James is “almost certainly” leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers in free agency, according to a report from Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck.
James, who has a player option for the 2018-19 season worth $35.6 million, can opt out of his deal to become an unrestricted free agent come July.
“Free agency looms, as it did in 2010 and 2014, and with it the potential for the NBA’s balance of power to shift all over again. As ever, James was guarded. And, as ever, he sprinkled enough clues through his comments to give a strong sense of his thought process.
There was but one logical conclusion: He’s leaving. Again.
The Warriors, by virtue of their sheer dominance and devastating assemblage of talent, have left him with no other option.
So expect James to do what he’s always done at these critical career junctures: find better running mates.
It almost certainly won’t happen in Cleveland. The Cavs don’t have the payroll room, or the general allure, to land star free agents. The eighth pick in the draft won’t help them in the near term or be valuable enough to land a significant player via trade.
So it seems almost certain that James will be calling the moving trucks, for the third time in eight years.”
Ultimately, there might be only one thing that could get James to stay in Cleveland when he hits free agency this offseason: his family.
According to the New York Times‘ Marc Stein, James is likely to leave Cleveland in order to continue his career elsewhere, but “pleading from family members” could potentially convince him to stay.
“They likewise understand that the odds of James electing to stay with his home-state Cavaliers this off-season appear to be only marginally better than the prospect of four consecutive wins against the mighty Warriors — unless merely getting to the championship round is enough for James at 33.
Those privy to James’s thinking say that at this stage, pleading from family members appears to be the only force that could persuade him to extend his second stint with the Cavs and resist the opportunity to switch teams, as he did in 2010 and again in 2014.
The leaguewide belief, of course, is that chasing championships is James’s priority, which necessitates relocating to a team far better equipped to do so than the Cavaliers. He can do so either by signing elsewhere as a free agent after July 1 or opting into the final season of his current Cleveland contract and forcing a trade to a new home.”
So in short, unless LeBron’s family really wants him to stay in Cleveland, it sounds like he is as good as gone.
Source: 247 Sports