The possibility of the Los Angeles Lakers signing LeBron James in free agency is now considered a long shot, according to Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.
The discussion of James landing with the Lakers next summer in free agency has been much publicized this point. He has spoken highly of Lakers rookies Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma recently and it was reported that he purchased his second home in Los Angeles last week.
Earlier this season, social media was sent into a frenzy when Rich Paul, James’ agent, was seen sitting courtside next to Lakers co-owner and president Jeanie Buss. Paul also represents Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and was simply onhand for Caldwell-Pope’s Lakers debut. Paul later told ESPN that sitting next to Buss meant nothing other than the fact that he enjoyed their company.
While the Lakers are considered by many to be the favorites to land James, both he and his agent have downplayed any talk regarding free agency. In fact, James even shut down interview requests after shootaround Thursday morning ahead of the Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers game Thursday night presumably to avoid questions regarding the Lakers free agency rumors.
Paul reiterated to ESPN that free agency rumors will not be addressed during the season.
“LeBron is focused on this season and winning a championship,” Paul said. “At the appropriate time, we will explore all the options. Now is not the time.”
James is expected to opt out of his $35,607,968 player option for next season and become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Teams all over the NBA will be lining up in an attempt to secure a free agency meeting with James to offer their sales pitch. A report surfaced earlier this week stating the Houston Rockets believe they have a real chance at signing James, while rival executives have named the Philadelphia 76ers as a possibility as well.
Regardless of where James will ultimately end up, rumors will surely ramp up as the season progresses.