With the NBA Finals and NBA draft behind us, all attention now shifts to the start of free agency on July 1 — and, more specifically, to the free agency of LeBron James. The best basketball player on the planet has the right to hit the unrestricted market once again, and as was the case in 2010 and 2014, the entire basketball-watching world will be waiting on his next move. So, while we’re waiting, here’s the latest in LeBron-related news and notes:
Previously, on the LeBron Tracker:
Lakes moving on from PG to Boogie?
With Paul George looking quite likely to sign with the Thunder, it appears the Lakers are considering other possible co-stars for LeBron in Los Angeles. As The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor speculates, free agent center DeMarcus Cousins might be a candidate for a short-term max contract with the team. Cousins is coming off an Achilles tear, but was posting career numbers with the New Orleans Pelicans he went down and had at least one significant fan in the past.
DeMarcus Cousins sounds like an increasingly likely target for the Lakers on a short-term max contract now that it appears Los Angeles will lose out on Paul George, per league sources. In January 2017, LeBron James called Cousins "the best big man in our game."
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) July 1, 2018
Sound the alarms: LeBron James has landed in Los Angeles
Friday morning, Brian Windhorst reported the James was in the “Decision Cave” in the Caribbean with his closest advisors:
He’s planning on having a meeting with his closest advisors and friends. I believe, you know, he’s still in the Caribbean, and I believe that his firends have come there and they’re gonna huddle there. They have what they call “The Decision Cave.”
His agent Rich Paul is in Los Angeles, he’s got other free agents that he’s got to deal with, but his closest friends will get together in the Decision Cave.
Of course, it’s not an actual “cave,” as Windhorst humorously clarified later Friday. But it did reveal where James was, and that allowed people to begin speculating where his next trip would take him thanks to flight-tracking technology.
— XannyBar Schauffele (@JimSebow) June 30, 2018
Got word that Lebron James’ plane is flying out to LA tomorrow
— Charles Tiu (@charlestiu) June 30, 2018
Shortly before noon Pacific Time on Saturday, James was spotted at Van Nuys Airport, a public airport in Los Angeles that isn’t used by any major airlines.
LeBron is in Los Angeles apparently. (I was told he was in this car leaving Van Nuys Airport.) Now we wait on his decision. pic.twitter.com/edDnZGMGO1
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) June 30, 2018
Future Laker LeBron James has landed in LA pic.twitter.com/ghhVdAq7F1
— Alex Harmer (@harmer805) June 30, 2018
It’s important to remember that James owns multiple homes in Los Angeles and has spent past offseasons in the City of Angels. Of course, there’s a chance that Los Angeles is soon to become his in-season home, too. Get the speculation going!
Las Vegas took notice of the landing, too
Shortly after James landed in Los Angeles, MyBookie.ag Sportsbook & Casino now has the Lakers as -5000 favorites to sign the three-time NBA champion.
BREAKING: The Lakers are now -5000 favorites to sign LeBron James @betmybookie.
— OddsShark (@OddsShark) June 30, 2018
That means you would have to put $5000 down just to win $100 if James signs with Los Angeles. For what it’s worth, all other teams are +1500.
Report: LeBron James has no plans to meet with the Cavaliers
With less than half a day until free agency begins, James has no plans to meet with the Cleveland Cavaliers in person, Dave McMenamin of ESPN reported. The report comes a day after James opted out of the final year of his contract, a move that narrowed down his list because James can now no longer be traded to a team with limited cap space.
From McMenamin’s report:
James’ camp and the Cavs’ front office has been in regular dialogue since the season ended, sources said, and James’ agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, informed the Cavs on Friday morning that the four-time MVP would not be opting in to the final year of his contract with Cleveland worth $35.6 million.
Paul, who represents several other players entering into free agency — Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Nerlens Noel among them — will conduct all his business over the phone when free agency begins, sources told ESPN.
Fear not, though, Cavaliers fans. McMenamin also reported that, while there is no meeting planned for the opening of free agency, it remains unclear if there is meeting down the line.
The Cavaliers can offer James more money than anyone.
Cleveland can offer James more money than the other two teams that are currently believed to be the frontrunners for James’ services: the Lakers and the 76ers.
LeBron would be leaving roughly $53 million on the table if he doesn't sign with the Cavs 💰 pic.twitter.com/5AEjbGksWc
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) June 30, 2018
The Cavaliers believe they are very much in the mix for James, and retaining the four-time MVP is “Plan A, B and C” when it comes to free agency, per a source.
Richard Jefferson still doesn’t know where James is going
Jefferson, who won a title with James in 2016, joked a few days ago that he was ending his friendship with James so people would stop asking him.
My family & I would appreciate your privacy during this difficult time – Thank You! pic.twitter.com/7zKxZDjcUz
— RoadTrippinPodcast🎧 (@RoadTrippinPod) June 27, 2018
Apparently the statement wasn’t enough, and Jefferson had to make himself a walking billboard by Saturday:
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) June 30, 2018
More from Yahoo Sports:
• Report: Tigers pitching coach fired for racial slur
• NBA free agency: The top 50 players on the market
• Report: Vince McMahon planning to spend $500M on XFL
• Lakers guard Lonzo Ball suffers torn meniscus in left knee