Joel Embiid tweets about the Lakers with LeBron James’ decision looming

Kristopher Nichols
July 1, 2018

CLEVELAND - When NBA free agency officially opens up Sunday at 12:01 a.m. ET, the Cleveland Cavaliers will not meet in person with LeBron James or his representatives, sources told ESPN.

Not being able to get George means the Lakers have to look elsewhere for a possible star to play with James - which, in turn, has led to talks with the San Antonio Spurs this week about the possibility of a trade for Kawhi Leonard. You remember, the report that had James texting the Warriors' Kevin Durant suggesting they play together on the Lakers? They are effectively out of the LeBron James Sweepstakes, though they are expected to keep free-agent-to-be Chris Paul. ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reported this week that James would not be seeking out elaborate pitch meetings during the free-agency process. Los Angeles has increased its win total by exactly nine games in each of the last two years. Still, after accepting the league's Rookie of the Year award Monday in Los Angeles, Simmons made the case for why a player like James should want to join the up-and-coming Sixers. I believe the Lakers have the inside track for getting LeBron. The Lakers are the current favorite to land James, but the Sixers and Rockets are also in the running. The Lakers have more assets to offer the Spurs than the Clippers, giving them a real shot to execute a trade. James and Paul would have to work out discount shenanigans to make it work, which seems improbable. However, James would be doing that deal at 34 years old. Along with having a core of promising young players that they've built with high draft picks, the Lakers appear to be on the verge of adding at least one, if not two or three All-Stars.

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Love, who averaged 17.3 points and 9.3 rebounds in an All-Star campaign last season, could be the focal point on offense for a team that as of now feels it has no real incentive to start a rebuild right away. James said he'll factor family into his next choice and there's still a chance he'll re-sign with the Cavs, who were swept by Golden State in this year's Finals.

The four-time MVP is the headliner of a major free agency class. Gilbert has gone above and beyond financial barriers to appease James, but the well could be running dry.

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