It seems with each day there is a new rumor about what LeBron James is looking for in free agency and how that might affect the Los Angeles Lakers. However, when it comes from the mouth of Dwyane Wade — by all accounts one of James’ best friends in the league — it’s worth paying attention to.
Wade stopped by “Chris and Caron” on Fox Sports Radio and shared what he thinks James will be looking for in free agency:
“I don’t think it’s a basketball thing. Obviously this year he showed he could get to the Finals no matter what the circumstances are. I don’t really think for him the basketball decision is ‘Oh let me go team up with three All-Stars.’ For him at this point in his life it’s moreso a lifestyle thing. (He can ask himself) ‘Where is my family going to be the most comfortable at? Where am I going to be the happiest at?’ Because basketball-wise he’s so great that he can bring along and take along whoever.”
Wade isn’t wrong about the teammates not mattering as much for James, who proved this year that he’s perhaps the greatest one-man wrecking ball in NBA history by smashing the Eastern Conference to smithereens before ultimately falling in the NBA Finals because his supporting cast was made up of a gimpy Kevin Love and the best two ballhandlers behind him were J.R. Smith and Jordan Clarkson, which, ouch.
If James can take that glorified lottery team to the Finals, then yeah, it’s not surprising he isn’t super concerned about his teammates, even if that does contradict an earlier report that he’s mostly focused on finding the place that gives him ”the best chance for a championship.”
James has also said that his family will be his biggest focus in free agency, but it’s not like focusing on his family necessarily precludes him from chasing a solid basketball situation. The choice isn’t binary.
The Lakers would seem to offer a solid middle ground. Given that James makes his offseason home base in the city, his family is already familiar with it, and the Lakers’ league-leading cap space also gives James the chance to bring in some roster help that the cap space-strapped Cavs simply don’t have room for.
That doesn’t mean James will choose the Lakers. Maybe he feels raising his kids in Ohio is the best choice for himself and his family, and given that the state is his and his children’s true home, maybe he’s not wrong. He certainly shouldn’t be begrudged that choice, as every player has the right to pick what’s best for them in free agency.
However, the Lakers also look like an increasingly good option for James to fulfill both of those goals, and perhaps that’s why they’re among the “leading contenders” to sign him.
All stats per NBA.com and Basketball-Reference.com. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.