With the NBA Finals and NBA draft behind us, all attention now shifts to the start of free agency on July 1 — and, more specifically, to the free agency of LeBron James. The best basketball player on the planet has the right to hit the unrestricted market once again, and as was the case in 2010 and 2014, the entire basketball-watching world will be waiting on his next move. So, while we’re waiting, here’s the latest in LeBron-related news and notes:
Assemble your crew; I’ll be outside
James has until Friday to inform the Cleveland Cavaliers whether he’s choosing to exercise his $35.6 million player option for the 2019-19 NBA season, or whether he’ll opt out to become an unrestricted free agent. (A reminder: opting in doesn’t necessarily mean he’s staying put. Chris Paul opted into the final year of his deal with the Los Angeles Clippers last summer, only to immediately orchestrate a trade to the Houston Rockets.) While he weighs his options and considers his choice, he’s also working the phones, according to Mark Heisler of the Orange County Register:
“Meanwhile,” said [one Eastern Conference] GM, “LeBron is doing what we [do] — calling players on other teams he wants to play with.”
There have been no specific reports, but there’s no mystery about who’s involved. At this point, the surprise would be finding out some fave Bron has kept secret.
The usual suspects, then — players gifted enough to move the needle in their own right, but who will likely sit tight until LeBron makes his call, one way or another.
For what it’s worth, Sam Amick of USA TODAY Sports reported Saturday that Houston is “fully confident” that Paul — who helped the Rockets post the NBA’s best record this season, who reached the Western Conference finals for the first time in his career before being cruelly forced to bow out after Game 5 with a hamstring injury, and who will also be an unrestricted free agent come Sunday morning — will stay put in Texas. However, Amick also reports that the Rockets “appear resigned to the fact that James won’t be coming their way.”
The San Antonio Spurs, for their part, continue to spread word that they’re going to exhaust every possible avenue of keeping the disgruntled Leonard in the fold rather than flip him to a team looking to kickstart LeBron’s next superteam. And as George nears his own June 29 deadline for informing the Oklahoma City Thunder whether he’s picking up his $20.7 million player option or hitting free agency, Marc Stein of the New York Times has maintained that — despite his long-since-reported-and-publicized interest in L.A. — the odds of George staying in OKC are better than you’d think.
if LeBron’s purported preferred running buddies aren’t actually running anywhere, and if Daryl Morey can’t move heaven and earth to get James to Houston, then perhaps the odds that James might stay put rise, too. Of course, everything’s subject to change in the NBA, and quickly … especially once LeBron starts making calls.
ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported Monday that, should he choose to decline his player option and hit the market, James “has no intention of hearing elaborate pitch meetings from teams,” which sounds about right.
At this point — after 15 years as a pro, eight straight trips to the NBA Finals, three championships and two high-profile free agencies — James doesn’t need to hear a sales pitch from teams about why they’re the best fit for his services, and he’s not going to be wowed by an elaborate light show, or whatever. He might not know yet exactly what he wants, but whatever it winds up being, he knows that he’ll get it and how he’ll do it. Letting potential suitors with whom he’ll deign to take a meeting know that they don’t need to set up a dog-and-pony show sounds downright benevolent. (Especially if you’re one of those team staffers who’d be tasked with doing that instead of having a burger at a July 4 cookout, or whatever.)
LeBron changed his Twitter header and profile picture!
As of this weekend, LeBron changed his profile picture from one of him as a small fry to one of him playing high school ball …
For the first time in a long time, LeBron changed his Twitter avatar.
— Ben Axelrod (@BenAxelrod) June 24, 2018
… and the background image on his Twitter page to a collage of photos of him and his family:
LeBron's new Twitter header! Love it! pic.twitter.com/WRUWlf0gyz
— Cleveland Sports Talk (@CLEsportsTalk) June 24, 2018
More NBA coverage:
– – – – – – –
More from Yahoo Sports:
• Report: FIFA knew of Russian doping, did nothing
• NASCAR broadcaster fractures skull after being hit by car while jogging
• English fan receives five-year ban for Nazi salute in Russia
• Report: Spurs to keep Kawhi Leonard or trading him to East