Welcome to the LeBron James summer sweepstakes, where nobody knows anything, but everybody is trying to guess. We’re only four days into the offseason, and the race to figure out James’s next team is already as thrilling as it is exhausting. Claims are being made left and right, and tinfoil hats are being put on in order to parse through the smallest of details. Again: Nobody knows where LeBron is going, not even LeBron himself.
“When I decide what I’m going to do with my future, my family and the folks that have been with me for 20 years will have a say-so,” James told reporters last Friday after being eliminated in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. “Then it ultimately will come down to me.”
LeBron, who can opt out of his contract this summer, said in early April that “family and winning” will determine his next big decision, but that isn’t going to stop all of us from trying to find the smallest of hints that can shed light on LeBron’s mind-set. It’s like a giant game of Clue. Let’s round up the take-this-with-a-grain-of-salt claims so far:
LeBron Is Headed to the Spurs
One of the biggest buzzwords when it comes to free agency is, well, “buzz.” The particular buzz around LeBron and San Antonio is founded on a couple of things. First, Marc Stein’s report in The New York Times says the Spurs are in the hunt: “[T]he ever-persuasive San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich is bound to try to force his way into the conversation to sell James on the merits of South Texas.” I’d like to be in the room when Pop sells James by recommending the best Tex-Mex restaurants in the area. Second, Dejounte Murray, who, like James, is a Klutch Sports client, has started recruiting, too:
In all seriousness, James joining the Spurs would make great basketball sense. Pair LeBron with Kawhi Leonard and San Antonio would automatically become one of the more interesting teams in the league. A healthy Kawhi would be James’s best teammate … ever? And he’d get to be coached by the best in the league. San Antonio wouldn’t bring the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles, but this scenario would be basketball nirvana for LeBron.
LeBron Is Not Going to Houston
On ESPN Radio in Los Angeles, Marla Ridenour, a columnist for the Akron Beacon Journal, said that the local media is pessimistic about James staying in Cleveland. She also talked about Houston, or, rather, LeBron’s supposed opinion of the place:
“I heard this from his own lips when we were in Houston this season, he does not like Houston as a city,” she said. “That would require him moving to a place that he’s not crazy about.”
This type of rumor is my favorite. It’s a fact from a credible source. But it’s taken out of context, and thus takes on a new life as we gravitate to any morsel of information available. It’s the offseason rumor mill in a nutshell.
Houston has the best case on paper for winning a title right away, or at least competing for one. Add LeBron to James Harden and Chris Paul, and the Rockets have a bona fide Big Three that will give the Warriors trouble. Then again, LeBron just competed in the Finals with a shell of an NBA roster. Does he really need to partner up with Houston’s crew to get back to the Finals?
LeBron and His Son Are Both Going to Play in Los Angeles
And finally, the pièce de résistance. In a video with Black Sports Online, Gary Payton let us all in on a bit of news: LeBron James’s oldest son, LeBron James Jr., is supposedly committed to play high school basketball next season at Sierra Canyon, located just outside of L.A. For what it’s worth, a school official told reporter Chris Palmer that Bronny’s commitment is “news to us,” and the Los Angeles Daily News, citing multiple sources from the Sierra Canyon athletic department, said nothing is official.
The school is in one of the nicer suburbs of the San Fernando Valley, about 32 miles from downtown L.A. (i.e., the site of the Staples Center), and filled with kids of celebrities. The basketball team won the state title last season with Derek Fisher’s nephew, Scottie Pippen’s son, Kenyon Martin’s son, and the no. 1 shooting guard in the country. Seriously.
LeBron Sr. recently said that playing with his oldest son in the NBA would be his “greatest achievement”; LeBron Jr. playing for a powerhouse like Sierra Canyon would certainly put him on that path. And if you’re into connecting dots, with LeBron trying to prioritize family more, wouldn’t it make sense that he’d want to be around for Bronny’s games? What I’m obviously trying to say here is that LeBron will sign with the Clippers. Duh.