Chris B. Haynes of ESPN — who has been as plugged in with James’ camp as anyone in recent years — outlined the options James will be considering this summer to Tim Kawakami on “The TK Show”:
“Houston has been linked a lot. I’ve been told that Philly of course, that’s legit. 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. That’s just, you’re gonna do that. And you’re gonna listen. So they have things in play, the Lakers have been setting up for two years for this summer.
Then I’m going to throw out a dark horse: The Toronto Raptors. I’m gonna throw out the Toronto Raptors, 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 problem is, they have Kyrie Irving over there, so they have some explaining to do. That could be a little conundrum, but I think those are some of the real firm options out there, as well as re-signing with Cleveland.”
The Raptors are the only name here that seems truly outlandish, but I guess maybe LeBron has given up on being the GOAT American player of all time and has set his sights on stealing the Canadian title from Steve Nash as revenge for his role on the Warriors’ coaching staff? But I digress.
As for the Lakers portion of this, it’s not exactly shocking. The Lakers probably did seem like a stronger option when they were playing better earlier in the year, and even if their late-season slippage could mostly be chalked up to injuries, the on-court product is likely something James is seriously considering and those struggles could have hurt the Lakers’ case there.
The Sixers, after firing totally normal collar enthusiast and general manager Brian Colangelo, would seem to loom large as the Lakers’ biggest threat here, although I suppose there is a chance Houston finds a way to make the cap space and sign him to team with his old buddy Chris Paul (emphasis on old) or that LeBron and Kyrie Irving decide to ship up to Boston together with a better cast of role players than Cleveland ever put around them.
Still, it sounds like the Lakers will get a meeting, and Magic Johnson is nothing if not charismatic (as is Rob Pelinka). The Lakers are in the room, which means they have a chance, even if #LABron doesn’t look as likely as it once did.