Less than one week removed from the Cleveland Cavaliers getting swept by the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, free agency speculation involving LeBron James has kicked into high gear.
Recent days have turned up reports of James and/or his wife visiting a Southern California high school to obtain information on enrolling their eldest child, Bronny Jr. Former NBA player Gary Payton went so far as to say he was committed to playing at Sierra Canyon.
In the weeks and months prior, the Cavaliers, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers have been mentioned as the teams most likely to receive consideration from James. He reportedly does not yet have a list that’s comprised of any sort of finalists.
What James made clear following the Cavs’ loss in Game 4 of the Finals was his eye and focus remains on competing for championships. James suggested joining a young team that needs to grow and develop wasn’t an option at this stage of his career.
On the surface, the Rockets arguably provide James with the best opportunity to dethrone the Warriors. However, Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal explained during an appearance on ESPNLA Radio that James is not fond of Houston as a city:
“I think the teams that have been mentioned (76ers, Cavaliers, Lakers, Rockets) are desirable places to live. But I will tell you this, I heard this from his own lips when we were in Houston this season. He does not like Houston as a city. So, that would require him moving to a place that he’s not crazy about.”
Though James made it clear he intends to play for a contender next season, he also said his family’s feelings and wishes will carry some weight. Like many other NBA All-Stars, James and his family spend a portion of the offseason in Los Angeles.
So there’s certainly a level of comfortability with the city that Houston can’t match. But whether that will be enough for the Lakers to entice James to sign is anyone’s guess.
Moreover, the Rockets front office would need to do significant maneuvering in order to sign James and re-sign Chris Paul. Their friendship and widely held belief of a desire to be teammates could potentially lead James and Paul to signing with the Lakers, given their ample salary cap space.
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