LeBron James had little time to decompress after the Golden State Warriors completed a sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. A postgame press conference was filled with questions about his right hand injury and forthcoming free agency.
James has until June 29 to decide on a $36 million player option. Conventional wisdom is he will opt out, though there is the possibility of exercising in order to orchestrate a trade. It’s how Chris Paul made his way to Houston last summer.
No matter which path James ultimately elects to head down, it’s clear where his focus remains. “I still have so much to give to the game. Like I said, when you have a goal and you’re able to accomplish that goal, it actually — for me personally, it made me even more hungry to continue to try to win championships,” he said after Game 4.
“And I still want to be in championship mode. I think I’ve shown this year why I will still continue to be in championship mode.
With limited trade assets and little to no salary cap flexibility, the Cavaliers don’t appear to be James’ best bet at competing for a championship next season. The Boston Celtics figure to be much more formidable with the returns of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.
The Philadelphia 76ers, who are expected to pursue James and Paul George in free agency, presumably will take another step forward in their development as a young team. The Los Angeles Lakers, another rumored James suitor, face similar questions about growth.
That type of youth might be a deterrent for James. “It’s definitely not the most comfortable thing to start a team from scratch, because the most important is health, because you need to build chemistry so fast and camaraderie so fast on the floor,” he explained.
“And if you have multiple injuries or you have multiple bodies out, when you’re starting fresh, it’s too hard. So being a part of the start-fresh mode is something that you definitely don’t want to be a part of. It has its pros and it definitely has its cons.”
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