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Rich Paul Drops Bombshell About LeBron James Free Agency

2024 NBA free agent, LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers)

With LeBron James’s free agency status at the forefront of everyone’s mind, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul has left the cat out of the bag. Kind of.

Rich Paul Drops Bombshell About LeBron James Free Agency

“LeBron’s a free agent,” Paul reveals to a TNT Sports panel featuring Vince Carter, Chris Haynes, Bomani Jones, and Adam Lefkoe.

From the looks on everyone’s faces, Paul was the only person oblivious about the magnitude of that statement. This was seemingly confirmed when he nonchalantly segued to the topic of the Los Angeles Lakers’ head coaching search. However, when pressed by Haynes to confirm James’s free agent status, Paul refused.

“I don’t know what he’s going to do,” he says. “We’re going to do what we do every year. We’re going to evaluate the situation, and we’re going to make the best decision.”

James has until Jun. 29 to decide on his $51.4 million player option for the 2024-25 season. As of now, the Lakers are the favorites to sign him should he actually become a free agent. However, the Philadelphia 76ers are a legitimate landing spot.

Philadelphia 76ers

The Sixers expressed interest in James ahead of the 2023-24 trade deadline, though they were quickly rebuffed.

Philadelphia is projected to have $55.5 million in cap space this offseason, enough to sign a max free agent. Furthermore, James was quite complementary of Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey throughout the 2023-24 season. Maxey, the 2024 Most Improved Player of the Year, has been a Klutch Sports client since 2020. James will also be teaming up with Sixers center Joel Embiid, the 2023 NBA MVP, in the Paris Olympics.

Philadelphia doesn’t have the history of the Lakers, though hoops legends like Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving, and Allen Iverson played for them. It doesn’t have L.A.’s marketing opportunities or California’s mild weather. However, returning to the Big 3 model and the Eastern Conference should appeal to James.

Cleveland Cavaliers

James may also consider the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The calculated veteran sparked thoughts about a reunion when he appeared at a playoff game between the Cavs and Boston Celtics. If Act III is in the works, he may be able to star alongside Donovan Mitchell. Darius Garland too, if the Cavs get the Lakers to bite on a sign-and-trade that sends James to Cleveland in exchange for Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert, and Max Strus.

With the Cavs, James has only won one championship, but it’s carried far more weight than his ring with the Lakers. This is not just because it was the first in franchise history, though that certainly helps. The fact of the matter is that James is the home state hero.

For comparison’s sake, take the title Kawhi Leonard won with the Toronto Raptors in 2019, which was also the first in franchise history. Leonard is loved and appreciated by Raptors fans. However, he’s not revered, like James is by Cavs fans.

This may not matter to every player but it’s definitely a potential factor for ‘The Kid From Akron.’

New York Knicks

Speaking of the Cavs, there are shades of Kyrie Irving in Jalen Brunson’s game.

They do it a bit different, but both can get into the teeth of the defense at will, possessing both the technique and instincts necessary to bombard opponents with buckets. Indeed, they’re as tough to cover as any guard in the league. An All-Star and All-NBA selection for the first time in 2023-24, Brunson’s firepower and career trajectory make him a great complement to James offensively.

However, it’s not just Brunson over there, though his play has overshadowed his star teammate. If James joins the Knicks, three-time All-Star Julius Randle figures to remain in the other forward spot. A tough-nosed three-level scorer and understated playmaker, Big 3 with him, Brunson, and James, could have their way in the East.

Having flirted with the idea of playing for the Knicks for 14 years, will James strike while the iron’s hot?

Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns may also be shortlisted by James.

Their decision to bring Bronny James is for a predraft workout does play a part in their being an attractive destination. The opportunity to play for a team led by friend and former teammate James Jones, the Suns’ general manager, is another circumstantial factor. However, this is primarily about his ability to play alongside Kevin Durant and Devin Booker.

Durant, 35, is a 14-time All-Star and two-time champion. A natural scorer, the future Hall of Famer is virtually unguardable due to his length and guard skills. Booker may not have the height advantage that Durant does but at 6-foot-6, he knows how to use his size to his advantage. The Kentucky product has averaged 26.5 points per game over the past seven seasons.

With their potent scoring ability, James won’t have to do so much heavy lifting. As he’ll turn 40 in December, this could be an ideal scenarios. That said, the Suns would have to get Bradley Beal to sign off on a sign-and-trade to make this work.


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