Mannix: Three Players Will Influence LeBron

Trying to figure out where LeBron James will play next season? Follow these three players, Chris Mannix says

Taz and the Moose
June 25, 2018 - 10:31 am

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With NBA free agency looming, LeBron James’ future remains in doubt. Fans and analysts can project where James will go, but that exercise is likely futile.

“You can’t try to get inside the head of LeBron and interpret what he thinks,” Yahoo! Sports senior NBA writer Chris Mannix said on Taz & The Moose. “You can look at the landscape and what you think is going to happen with the other pieces he could be looking at. There’s three guys that could influence LeBron’s decision.”

The first is Kawhi Leonard, whose relationship with the Spurs is reportedly on the rocks.

“Nobody I talked to around the league believes that Kawhi will be traded imminently – or even right before July 1,” Mannix said. “The fact that he wasn’t traded on draft night, that sends a pretty clear signal that the Spurs are going to be, at bare minimum, methodical about this. Kyrie Irving was traded in late-August. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see a comparable scenario play out with Kawhi Leonard.”

The second is Paul George, who will likely decide between the Thunder and the Lakers.

“I think it’s 50/50 with him in Oklahoma City,” Mannix said. “He’s got a very, very good relationship with Russell Westbrook. I know the season ended poorly, but he’s got a very good relationship with Westbrook. He’s been working out with Westbrook for parts of the summer, and he and Oklahoma City have been communicating daily about just what kind of contract they might be looking for and the parameters of any kind of deal. So they’ve been talking.”

And the third, Mannix says, is DeMarcus Cousins.

“That’s someone I think that LeBron would maybe look to play with,” Mannix said. “Cousins’ future is obviously a lot more fluid than everybody else. There are concerns that he may not play until midseason next year. When a guy comes back from an Achilles injury like Cousins had, he’s not the same type of player, at least not in year one. Would he go to the Lakers to play with LeBron? Would LeBron want to play with him there?”

Maybe, maybe not. But James would likely rather play with Cousins than anyone currently on the Lakers’ roster.

“One thing we do know: LeBron is not going to L.A. to play with Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball and Julius Randle,” Mannix said. “He needs somebody else to go with him. All we can do is look at the guys that could be available and start to assess where they might be.”

James has stated that family will be a big part of his decision. If so, Mannix believes James’ decision will come down to the Cavs and Lakers.

“I don’t think Cleveland is off the table yet,” Mannix said. “If you factor in lifestyle choices, if he’s being serious about that – which people around him have told me he is – Cleveland and L.A. seem to be strong leaders in that clubhouse.”