Along with the Lakers, O’Connor said the King is also considering the Philadelphia 76ers, the Houston Rockets and his current team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Among the teams mentioned, only Philadelphia and Los Angeles are projected to have enough cap space to sign outright in free agency.
Cleveland can go over the cap to re-sign James using his bird rights, but it would only send them deeper into the luxury tax. The Cavs will owe $43 million as repeat luxury tax offenders this summer.
As for the Rockets, a lot has to happen before James can even start house hunting in Houston. The Rockets would have to trade literally everyone but James Harden to open up enough cap space to offer LeBron James a max contract, but that would involve Chris Paul taking a pay cut, albeit a slight one.
The Rockets could also acquire James the same way they acquired Paul, but that would involve Cleveland taking back salary and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert has no intention of being a repeat tax payer if James is not on the roster. Realistically, the Rockets aren’t a serious threat. At least not yet.
That leaves Philly and LA as the two most legitimate options for James, assuming he has no interest in returning to Cleveland. A player survey conducted by ESPN this past week revealed that 22 percent of the surveyed players believe James signs with the Lakers this offseason. Less than 12 percent believe James sign with the Sixers.
James and the Lakers are expected to be in the news a good amount this weekend as the Cavs roll into town to take on Los Angeles on Sunday. If he’s anything like Paul George in front of a microphone, it’s sure to be a fun next couple of days.