The Race to Land Lebron James Heats up As Free Agency Period Is Right Around the Corner

On Thursday night, the NBA Draft took place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The picks each team made had major implications for the direction this off-season free agency will take. The question remains: Who will LeBron James play for next season?

As expected, DeAndre Ayton was selected as the first overall pick by the Phoenix Suns. He was followed by Duke sensation Marvin Bagley III, who was drafted by the Sacramento Kings.

All eyes were on the #8 pick as the Cleveland Cavaliers were on the board. Fresh off another NBA Finals appearance, owner Dan Gilbert and the front office team decided to draft Alabama freshman standout point guard Collin Sexton.

The pick was an important one as many pundits believe whoever Cleveland selected will have an impact on how LeBron decides where he will suit up next season.

The Lakers, Cavaliers, Rockets and Sixers are early favorites to land "the King".

Updated odds for which team LeBron James will be on for the first game of 2018-19 NBA season (Bovada):

Lakers -325
Cavaliers +325
Rockets +750
76ers +1000
Celtics +1800
Spurs +2000
Clippers +2500
Knicks +3000
Heat +4000

— Odds Shark (@OddsShark) June 22, 2018

The free agency period officially begins on July 1, and James has until June 29 to notify Cavs general manager Koby Altman whether he will be taking the $35.6 million option for the 2018-19 season. If he does not, James has the right to engage in contractual conversation with NBA teams.

Teams and player personnel have already started strategizing on how they can land the 15-year-veteran.

Rockets point guard Chris Paul entertained the thought of having Houston mainly focus on landing the Akron native before negotiating his contract. But recently, tensions have been rising as Paul wants a max contract which Houston does not want to offer.

The decision of Kawhi Leonard, departing from San Antonio for L.A., plays a major part in James potentially heading to Hollywood.

But according to Altman, there has been preliminary "good dialogue" between him and LeBron after their recent Cavs draft pick. Sexton, a 2018 SEC Freshman Of The Year award winner, expressed his excitement at potentially suiting up with James.

If the Cavs front office replaces certain pieces of the puzzle that led to a disappointing showing in the 2018 NBA Finals, James might stay put in Cleveland. After all, it's a difficult road to the NBA Finals coming out of the Western Conference.

LeBron James 092218
LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts with Jeff Green #32 late in the game against the Golden State Warriors during Game Four of the 2018 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 8, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. Jason Miller/Getty Images

Editor's pick

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts