LeBron James, who has fulfilled his promise of bringing a championship to the city of Cleveland, isn’t obligated to stay with the Cavaliers.
And even though James is set to return to the Cavs for the forthcoming season, it’s too early to rule out the possibility of the four-time MVP heading to Los Angeles ahead of the 2017-18 season.
According to several sources, James and best friend Chris Paul are planning their 2017 free agency together and would be willing to take pay cuts to play together.
LeBron James wants to move to L.A.
In June, ESPN’s Stephen A Smith reported that James was planning to take his talents to Los Angeles in the coming years due to his blossoming career in Hollywood.
“I’m hearing there are possibilities that James leaves Cleveland in free agency to go to Los Angeles or Miami. LeBron always promised that he was coming back to deliver a title. He never promised to stay. The guys at Nike, the likes of Phil Knight, would love for James to head to Los Angeles.
“James has aspirations beyond basketball. Being in a big market like L.A., could help him accomplish a lot more in his career,” Smith said on the June 21 edition of ESPN First Take.
While Smith was hinting at James’ possible move to the Lakers, it’s the Clippers who have emerged as the likelier Los Angeles franchise, due to Chris Paul and owner Steve Ballmer.
Steve Ballmer ready to spend big
Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft, is not afraid to spend the big bucks to bring superstar talent to the Clippers. Last offseason, Ballmer and his staff raided DeAndre Jordan’s home and didn’t allow the athletic center to jump ship to the Dallas Mavericks.
While Paul and Blake Griffin are free agents next season, there’s a realistic possibility that Ballmer convinces both all-stars to stay put in Los Angeles, while adding James to the payroll. With the salary cap skyrocketing pat $100 million next summer, the possibilities are endless.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers told The Vertical podcast last week that the team was ultra-confident about retaining both Griffin and Paul next summer. “I do think we have an attractive place. We have a new owner. It would be interesting if Steve Ballmer wasn’t the owner, I don’t know how confident I would be (about retaining Paul and Griffin).”
In 2010, James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh planned their free agency together and took significant pay cuts to form a Big 3 in South Beach. The result? Four consecutive trips to the finals and two championships.
Don’t be surprised if LeBron James heads to Clippers next season and brings that franchise its first-ever championship.