LeBron James could become a free agent this offseason but he could also control his destiny in another way by orchestrating an opt-in-and-trade similar to Chris Paul last offseason.
On The Lowe Podcast, Brian Windhorst talked about a scenario in which James could have an extended period of time to work on his offseason plans if the Cavaliers are eliminated from the playoffs before the Finals.
"All I'm going to say is you don't want LeBron to have two months to plot with other players," said Windhorst. "Because, you know, Chris Paul and James Harden have now written the script. While the Finals are going on, if you're not in them, let's just get together in L.A. and plot how you're going to get together. You know, we've gotten in the point in the league where the players have so much power. They can force trades."
When James was a free agent in 2010, the Cavaliers were eliminated in the second round on May 13th.
"LeBron has an option in his contract. I hear people talking about, 'Will it be the "akers?' They go through the four teams with cap space. 'Will it be the Sixers?' If LeBron deems it, he will go to the Cavs, 'You will trade me to team X' and as long as that team isn't trying to force Luol Deng down the Cavs' throat, the Cavs will do the deal because they won't want to lose him for nothing. Just like how the Clippers did not want to trade Chris Paul, but at the end of the day, the alternative was unacceptable.
"If LeBron is left to his own devices and not focused on playing basketball for two months, and he can take meetings with everybody in the league: forget about July 1st, forget about the teams that are going to pitch him. The meetings are going to go down in May and June if LeBron is out of the playoffs. Now, if LeBron is not out of the playoffs and the Cavs get all the way to the Finals, that changes the game quite a bit.
"We're going to get down to June 29th, that's when LeBron's option date is. In fact, whenever the draft is, the Cavs are going to like, you know, be like, 'LeBron, what are we going to do here?' I don't even know if this is even going to get to July. This could all get mitigated out in June."