LeBron James can become a free agent in 2018 and multiple sources tell The Ringer they believe the Los Angeles Lakers or Los Angeles Clippers "are viable destinations" for him.
James already owns a home in the Los Angeles area and Adrian Wojnarowski wrote last season after the Cleveland Cavaliers won The Finals that James could “run off with his buddies again somewhere warm.”
While the Cavaliers have traded away several first round picks in an effort to maximize their window with James, they've hedged by protecting those picks. James signed a three-year, $100 million deal with the Cavaliers in 2016 that has a player option for 18-19.
“It’s our job to win right now and everyone feels that," said David Griffin in February. "Ownership feels that, ownership invests in it. When you have that amount of clarity, it makes doing things like trading protected firsts make sense. It may not look good on the books moving forward and people may look at it and say, ‘Oh my god, they’ve mortgaged their future.’ Well, if LeBron and Kyrie [Irving] and Kevin [Love] are gone, and we become a lottery pick, we’ll have those picks because they’re protected.”
The Clippers could offer James an opportunity to play with Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade, which he has talked about in the past.
“I really hope that, before our career is over, we can all play together. At least one, maybe one or two seasons — me, Melo, D-Wade, CP — we can get a year in. I would actually take a pay cut to do that,” James told Bleacher Report last season. “It would be pretty cool. I’ve definitely had thoughts about it.”
The Lakers are widely expected to sign Paul George in 2018 and could offer James a blend of a second established star and younger complementary players such as Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball.