The Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors are two dark horse teams that could sign LeBron James this summer in free agency, according to ESPN reporter Chris Haynes.
Haynes, known to be close with James’ camp, appeared on the Tim Kawakami podcast and revealed some tidbits about LeBron’s upcoming free agency.
“I’m going to throw out a dark horse, the Toronto Raptors,” Haynes said. “And let’s not overlook the Boston Celtics. I think the Celtics are in that realm with Golden State where if Boston reached out and said ‘We’re serious,’ LeBron would listen.”
The Celtics having Kyrie Irving on the roster would be problematic, as the All-Star guard reportedly demanded a trade out of Cleveland so he could escape James’ shadow.
Irving will be a free agent in 2019.
To the delight of NBA fans everywhere, it appears James won’t join the Golden State Warriors and ruin the entire landscape of the league.
“I don’t think it’s anything serious to where he will actually think about signing there,” Haynes said. “I reported back, I believe in February, out of respect if Golden State showed interest, he would talk with them and have a conversation. But I don’t see him coming here at all.”
The Houston Rockets are expected to pursue James in free agency, with Chris Paul reportedly already recruiting his pal LeBron to come to Houston.
The problem with the Rockets, however, is their salary cap situation. Houston is slated to have $85.1 million on the books for next year, with the NBA salary cap projected to be around $101 million for the 2018-19 season.
Paul will be a free agent once July 1 hits and he reportedly is seeking a max deal, while center Clint Capela will also enter free agency and the organization wants to retain him as well.
James is going to command a max contract, so Rockets general manager Daryl Morey would have to do some major salary cap shedding if he wants to sign LeBron.
The Philadelphia 76ers will also pursue James. Ben Simmons is represented by Rich Paul, the same agent as LeBron, and a big three of Simmons, James and Joel Embiid could wreak havoc on the league.
“Philly of course, that’s legit,” Haynes said.
Then there’s the Los Angeles Lakers, the team that’s been preparing for this summer for two years. The Lakers will have cap space to sign two max contract players and it is believed they are going after James and Oklahoma City Thunder star Paul George.
“The Lakers are still in play but they’re not as hot as it was before, but you’re going to grant Magic Johnson a meeting,” Haynes said. “You’re going to do that and listen.”
It’s going to be a fun summer tracking where LeBron takes his talents next. And there’s always the possibility that he shocks the national media and re-signs with the Cavs.