In Brief

LeBron James: where will the Cleveland star play next season?

The NBA’s free agency market opens on 1 July and ‘King James’ is being linked with both the Lakers and the 76ers

The biggest question in NBA at the moment is where will LeBron James be playing basketball next season?

USA Today reports that James is expected to spark a huge scramble for his signature by opting out of the final year of his contract at the Cleveland Cavaliers and becoming a free agent. 

The NBA’s free agency market officially opens on 1 July and three-time championship winner James, 33, must decide by 29 June if he will stay at the Cavs or sign with another franchise.

After the Cavs lost 4-0 in the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, James said he had “no idea at this point” where he would play next.

USA Today says that Cleveland can offer James a $209m (£157.3m) deal over five years and there are others teams who can offer a four-year contract worth $150m (£112.9m).

It’s likely that the NBA star’s options are to stay with Cleveland or go to the Philadelphia 76ers or Los Angeles Lakers – the three teams with “realistic salary cap space” to sign James in free agency.

Will James head west to LA?

In its “NBA Rumours” section, NJ.com reports that “all signs are pointing west” and James will head to Los Angeles to join the Lakers. NJ.com writer Joe Giglio says the Los Angeles Lakers “seem to fit the bill” and are the bookies’ favourites to land James ahead of the 76ers and Houston Rockets. 

With LA “in the picture” CBS Philly asks why James would come to the Sixers. Joseph Santoliquito writes: “The reality that needs to be stated is that James is not coming to Philadelphia. Not with the Los Angeles Lakers in the picture, Houston Rockets, Boston Celtics and now the San Antonio Spurs.” 

Meanwhile, NBA Hall of Famer and former 76ers star Charles Barkley agrees that “King James” won’t be heading to his former team. Barkley told The Mike Missanelli Show: “He’s not coming to the Sixers.” 

‘Honour James with a statue’

Even if James leaves Cleveland he should be honoured with a statue for the impact he’s had on the city. That’s the view of Reverend Dr Larry Macon of Mount Zion Church in Oakwood Village.

Rev Macon told Fox 8: “We, the clergy of Greater Cleveland, are calling for a life-sized statue of LeBron James to be erected in this city, and a street named in his honour. And let me be clear this doesn’t have to do with whether he continues to play in this city or not.”

According to ESPN, James is the “most valuable free agent in the history of sports”. His true value to Cleveland – the city not just the NBA team – is in the “hundreds of millions of dollars”. 

Cavs fans, businesses and the clergy will no doubt be praying for their king to stay and reign over the city of Cleveland.

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