After suffering a sweep at the hands of the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, all attention now turns to Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star LeBron James and where he will next take his talents once free agency begins July 1.
While James will prioritize signing with an organization that’s currently built to compete for championships, other factors such as family and friendships will almost certainly play a role in the process as well.
James is believed to have long desired the opportunity to team up with close friend Chris Paul, who is also scheduled to become a free agent this summer after spending the past season with the Houston Rockets.
Re-signing Paul while adding James to the fold would arguably solidify the Rockets as the biggest threat in dethroning the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference. Though, such a tandem would require Houston to pull off some serious roster maneuvering in order to fit both James and Paul under the salary cap.
According to Marc Stein of The New York Times, the Los Angeles Lakers could emerge as an appealing destination for both James and Paul, given their ability to dole out two max-contracts:
If Paul stays with the Rockets, Houston becomes the closest thing to a favorite on my scorecard, no matter how complicated it would be for the 65-win Rockets and their general manager, Daryl Morey, to orchestrate the requisite salary-cap gymnastics to bring James in. But don’t discount the idea that James could try to bring Paul with him to a team that can afford two superstars, such as the Lakers, because he and Paul really are that close.
As it currently stands, the Lakers will possess more cap space than any other organization this summer. That puts them in a unique spot in not only being able to offer James his desired salary, but a chance for him to pair off with any free agent such as Paul George or Paul.
The Philadelphia 76ers also stand in position to make a splash in free agency and could serve as the Lakers’ biggest competition for James, as they intend to pursue him along with George.
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