LeBron James woke up Thursday to an ESPN story that he says was news to him: That he would listen to a free agent offer from the Golden State Warriors this summer if they cleared enough salary cap space to sign him.
James, who almost certainly will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, said Friday that the story by ESPN’s Chris Haynes was “nonsense” and claims he’ll handle his free agency at the appropriate time, a.k.a. this summer after the season.
James said the first thing he did after seeing the story was “start laughing.”
“It’s nonsense, and it’s a non-story,” he said. “I think it’s a discredit to what I’m trying to do here. It’s a discredit to my teammates and the coaching staff here. My only focus right now is trying to figure out how we can become a championship-caliber team these next few months. There’s been so many stories about me the last few months and the last few days about where I’m going and where I’m at and what place I’m in. . . . If you don’t hear something coming from my voice, then it’s not true. . . . If it’s not from me, it’s not true.”
He also took the time to tell his teammates that he was sorry for the distraction in what has become a troubling time for the Cavaliers, who have lost 12 of their last 19 games entering Saturday night’s nationally televised game against the Houston Rockets, who have the NBA’s second-best record. It’ll be Cleveland’s second game without second-leading scorer Kevin Love, who broke a bone in his hand against the Pistons on Tuesday night and could miss two months.
“For them to have to hear that stuff every single day about my free agency, I apologize to them. I will handle my summer situation when my summer gets here, and I will not handle it right now. You guys know, in my 15-year career I’ve been a free agent . . . three times and I’ve always handled it in the right, appropriate time, and that’s at the end of the season.”
According to Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon, James has told people close to him that he never would play for the Warriors because of “the impact it would have on his legacy.” Of course, few thought he’d actually leave Cleveland the first time, and look what happened.