LeBron James: Latest News, Rumors, Speculation on Star's Future with Cavaliers

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist

TORONTO, ON - MAY 21:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers gestures during the first half against the Toronto Raptors in game three of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Air Canada Centre on May 21, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James is an unrestricted free agent, which means he could sign elsewhere this summer. However, it appears James will return to defend Cleveland's championship.

Continue for updates.


James' Timetable to Sign Contract Remains Unclear

Monday, July 18

Brian Windhorst of ESPN, citing sources, reported James "has informed the [Cavaliers] he will re-sign with the reigning NBA champions this summer but still has no timetable for negotiating or signing a deal."

Windhorst added that "James is currently traveling and spending time with family. He will meet with agent Rich Paul and go over his contract options at some point but there is no rush, sources said."

According to a July 15 report from Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com, James' lack of a timeline as to when he will sign a new contract is unrelated to the Cavaliers' negotiations with J.R. Smith.

On July 7, Haynes, citing sources, reported: "Team officials have reached out to the camp of James for an answer to no avail, sources say. However, there are some officials within the organization who don't view the situation as a concern."


Teams Reportedly Inquiring About James

Tuesday, July 5

Marc Stein of ESPN reported: "Teams are still calling to check on the unsigned [James], but I'm told agent Rich Paul politely informs them James is staying a Cav."


James Once Again Linked to Potential Lakers Move

Monday, June 20

"I'm hearing that it's a huge possibility that if he leaves [Cleveland], the [Los Angeles] Lakers could be in the mix," ESPN's Stephen A. Smith reported on First Take. Smith later added on Twitter that "all the major [free agents] are considering it," noting the money available to them in Los Angeles and the media market in addition to Kobe Bryant's retirement.

It's not the first time Smith has linked James to the Lakers, reporting May 23 that if the Cavaliers won a championship, which they did on Sunday night, James could depart in the offseason for the Lakers or Miami Heat.

Here are Smith's comments, via Dan Feldman of Pro Basketball Talk:

LeBron James promised the city of Cleveland, “I’m coming back to bring you that elusive title that has escaped this city since 1964.” He never said anything about staying once he does accomplish that.

I’m in Miami last week. I’m in Miami a few months ago. Skip Bayless, I’m hearing about a return to Miami if this man wins. He ain’t going nowhere if he loses. But, if he wins, his options are open. LA, but especially Miami, a return to South Beach.

Look man, there’s a lot going on. And there’s a lot riding on him winning. Losing changes everything, because it keeps there in Cleveland. But more importantly, it keeps him stuck, because he knows he can’t leave until he fulfills his promise. And if you can’t because you’re not a champion, that’s far worse than just choosing to stay because you want to.

It’s going to get very interesting. Keep your eyes on it.


James Has Spoken About Playing with Friends Again

As Feldman noted, James didn't explicitly promise to retire as a member of the Cavaliers when he penned a letter in Sports Illustrated upon signing with the team in the summer of 2014.

"My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question," James said in that letter. "But what’s most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio."

One trophy. It's hard to not focus on that specific wording in the wake of winning it all, especially in a season that hasn't been short of speculation that James could bolt over the summer.

There was James telling Howard Beck of Bleacher Report he would take a pay cut to play a season with Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade before his career ended. There was Smith reporting earlier in the season that James' camp had told him the superstar would leave if he was taken for granted or overburdened while carrying the load for the team.

Team officials even confirmed to Zach Lowe of ESPN.com that there was the possibility that James might leave if the team didn't win a title this season and played poorly in the postseason.

James was dominant this year once again. He averaged 25.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game during the regular season. He did so despite the team's often tumultuous season, as Cleveland fired head coach David Blatt and replaced him with Tyronn Lue.

In addition, Kyrie Irving earned the ire of his teammates for playing selfishly on the offensive end, and Kevin Love struggled at times to find his place among the trio of superstars.

Nonetheless, the Cavaliers came together at the perfect moment and secured a championship for Cleveland, something many didn't believe was possible when they went down 3-1 in the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors.

 

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