Monday, 22 April, 2019

Here's what LeBron James' free-agency means for Houston

Paul George GETTYPaul George could yet resign with the Thunder alongside Westbrook and Anthony
Cassandra Castillo | 29 June, 2018, 23:40

For now, George is set to hit the market when free agency officially begins at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, but he may not go anywhere.

On Friday, WKYC Channel 3 Sports confirmed that LeBron James will not pick up the one-year player option remaining on his Cleveland Cavaliers contract.

That was the path his friend Chris Paul took last summer when he opted into his contract with the Los Angeles Clippers and was then traded to the Houston Rockets. Even that was a remote possibility.

While all free agent decisions are important, this one holds special weight for James, with this likely being the final destination before he retires, and what he accomplishes moving forward will shape his legacy forever.

Turning down an option to stay with a team doesn't sound like positive news, but this hardly means the Cavs have been crossed off James' list.

After the departure of Kyrie Irving last summer, James has been a lone soldier for much of the year and nearly single-handedly dragged his team back to the finals.

Months ago, James' connection with the Cavs seemed broken, hopeless. "Well LeBron James reached out to Kevin Durant via text, from what I'm told, about coming to Los Angeles". "Why would I think about doing something like that?'"

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Unlike his free-agency forays in 2010 and 2014, James will not meet with prospective teams.

According to ESPN front-office insider Bobby Marks, Cleveland can offer James a more lucrative deal than any other team - a five-year max contract in the neighborhood of $207 million.

The chance to join one of the league's most iconic franchises has an appeal to James and he said following this year's Finals that he remains in "championship mode".

Wade, 36, spoke to George, who is deciding between returning to Oklahoma City or joining the Lakers, his hometown team, about the formation of the Heat's Big 3 and why it came together.

The Lakers are reportedly in heavy talks with the San Antonio Spurs to acquire Kawhi Leonard which would possibly guarantee that LeBron would take his talents out West and sign as well.

The Philadelphia 76ers and Houston Rockets are also believed to covet the four-time league MVP, who just played in his eighth straight Finals. Yet James has plenty of options elsewhere should he choose to leave.

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