Look, if you think these types of Lakers rumors are going away, they’re not. If you want them to go away, I can appreciate that, but also feel bad for your disappointment. So, I figure I can either ignore them, or at least offer it in only small doses. Today, I choose the latter.
Sports Illustrated’s sports media reporter and columnist Richard Deitsch polled seven different national and nba beat reporters asking them where they thought LeBron James would go next summer. Of those seven, five either said they believe or the consensus around the league is that it will be the Lakers and two said he’ll stay with the Cavs.
Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck: I don’t know, and no one else does either. I do believe, based on people I’ve spoken with in the last six months, that there’s a reasonable chance he leaves Cleveland again. I’ve had team executives swear—as long ago as May—that LeBron’s departure was a near certainty. The general belief around the league is that, if he does leave, he’ll land with the Lakers. How much of that is belief/speculation vs. inside knowledge is hard to say. It’s a gossipy league. Sometimes the gossip is accurate (hello, Paul George) and sometimes not. LeBron is a complex guy. I’m not about to predict his next move.
LA Times Tania Ganguli: It could be the one I cover. But in order for LeBron to come to the Lakers, he has to believe in the organization and the coaching staff. And he has to know another star will come with him. With another Rich Paul client (KentaviousCaldwell-Pope) on the Lakers roster, he’ll have a good amount of information about how things are inside the building.
Yahoo! Sports Michael Lee: I’ll say Cleveland. I know everybody assumes that he’s going to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers and start preparing himself for life after basketball by focusing on his business interests in television and film. Some have already called it a foregone conclusion but I still think a lot has to fall in place for that to happen. Russell Westbrook signing his extension with Oklahoma City could influence Paul George to stay with the Thunder, especially if they realize that they enjoy playing together and advance to the conference finals or beyond. Would DeMarcus Cousins going to LA as a free agent be enough for LeBron to go? I don’t know.
Personally, I’ll believe LeBron is going to the Lakers the minute he’s actually on the Lakers. I’ve had too many years of the Lakers being mentioned as a destination for top flight FA’s only for none of those players to end up playing going to the team for me to have even a semblance of hope in this area. LeBron is as unpredictable as they come, too, so I’m not about to invest a substantial amount of time actually considering this.
That said, the fact that this is such a widespread belief around the league is incredibly interesting to me and I find myself looking for reasons to explain that more than I’m looking for reasons to think about why James might actually do this. I’m also really interested that so many big name reporters who are also pretty well connected all seem to be hearing the same things. Of course this can lead to a where there’s smoke there’s fire situation, so then I just want to block it all out entirely.
Sadly, though, as I wrote at the top that’s not going to be possible. These types of stories are going to persist. And we’re just going to have to manage them.