Now that the NBA Finals are over, the better show begins: Finding out where LeBron James will end up this year during free agency.
Star player offers no hints on where he might be headed
CLEVELAND — The biggest revelation from LeBron James after what might have been the final game he ever plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers had nothing to do with his pending free agency. It was health-related.
It turns out that the nasty poke in the left eye that James incurred from Draymond Green in Game 1 of the NBA Finals was not the most severe injury he suffered that night.
From the postgame podium late Friday, after his Cavaliers were mercilessly broomed out of the finals
by the Golden State Warriors, James had an admission to share: He hurt his right hand badly after that crushing Game 1 defeat by punching a whiteboard.
“I let emotions get the best of me,” he said. “Pretty much played the last three games with a broken hand.”
That should help explain why James, as he left Friday night’s humbling 108-85 defeat with 4 minutes, 3 seconds still on the clock, congratulated every Warrior on the floor for the team’s 4-0 sweep and back-to-back championships by extending his left hand instead of his right for shakes and slaps.
Yet that was the extent of the headline-making answers on a dour evening at Quicken Loans Arena. The locals appear to be bracing for another James departure, judging by the long stretches of secondhalf silence in the building, but no good clues were forthcoming on the real curiosity.
Asked if he indeed planned to leave the Cavaliers for a second time when he hits the open market July 1, James said, “I have no idea at this point.” Asked what he would prioritize when making his third career foray into free agency, James offered a lengthy answer about the need to consult his wife and three children — “My family is a huge part of whatever I’ll decide to do,” he said — but then made it clear he was not at all ready to walk away from the challenge of trying to topple the Warriors at the age of 33.
“I still want to be in championship mode,” James said. “I think I’ve shown this year why I will still continue to be in championship mode.”
Does the family part of the equation mean staying with the talent-shy Cavaliers is still a possibility? Could it actually mean the Los Angeles Lakers are the true favorites to sign James because his family also has a home in Southern California that it is known to love? Or, is James determined to go anywhere he has to go for the best shot at assembling a squad far closer to Golden State’s level than the Cavaliers appear capable of getting?
“We’ll see what happens,” James said more than once at his final news conference of the season.
James broke his hand in frustration after Cleveland’s Game 1 loss.