CLEVELAND (AP) â€” One month before the start of the N.B.A.â€™s free agency period, LeBron James has handicapped his field of suitors: The Cleveland Cavaliers lead the pack.
In his first interview since the Cavaliersâ€™ season ended with a second-round loss to the Boston Celtics, James told CNNâ€™s Larry King that Cleveland had â€œan edgeâ€ to re-sign him when free agency begins July 1.
King, who interviewed James at his home near Akron on Tuesday, asked him if Cleveland had â€œan edge going in.â€
â€œAbsolutely,â€ he said in a portion of the interview released by CNN. â€œBecause, you know, this city, these fans, I mean, have given me a lot in these seven years. And, you know, for me, itâ€™s comfortable. So Iâ€™ve got a lot of memories here. And so it does have an edge.â€
The interview will be shown Friday on â€œLarry King Live.â€ Other than his postgame interview, James has not talked to the news media since the Cavaliers were eliminated by the Celtics.
The cynical view will be that LeBron will go where the money is, but he’s also shown a fairly strong connection to his hometown over the past seven years, so the possibility of staying in Cleveland is not out of the question at all.
Here’s an except from the interview that CNN has made available:
BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Celtics sent LeBron James and the Cavaliers back to Cleveland to admire all of their regular-season accomplishments.
It’s the Celtics who are still in the chase for an NBA title.
Kevin Garnett scored 22 points and added 12 rebounds, and Rajon Rondo had 21 points and 12 assists to beat Cleveland 94-85 in Game 6 on Thursday night. Boston advanced to the Eastern Conference finals, which begin Sunday in Orlando against the Magic, who are 8-0 in the playoffs after sweeping the Charlotte Bobcats and the Atlanta Hawks in the opening rounds.
Despite his fifth career playoff triple-double, James is headed for another early offseason after winning a second MVP award and leading the Cavs to an NBA-best 61 wins and a home-court advantage they never got to use.
This one is destined to define the future of the franchise — and the rest of the NBA, too.
The LeBron watch began at 10:53 p.m., when Rondo dribbled out the last 14 seconds and the Celtics began celebrating. James is eligible to opt out of his contract this summer, a move that would make the two-time MVP — and zero-time NBA champion — a free agent and set off a scramble for his services from New York to Miami to Los Angeles and, of course, back in Cleveland.
”We know their team is fueled by one guy, and he has a hell of a supporting cast,” Garnett said. ”We knew that if we could somehow, someway control that supporting cast, then we had a good chance of beating this team.”
It’s long been speculated that this would be James’s last year in Cleveland if the Cavaliers didn’t win a Championship, and that he’d utilized the opt-out provision in his contract to move to a team that had a better chance of going all the way. Clevelanders, on the other hand, have always held out the hope that James’s ties to the community would keep him in town.
With the playoffs over once again for the Cavs, the ball is, quite literally, in LeBron’s court.
Two days after a heavy home loss to the New York Knicks, Reggie Theus was fired Monday as coach of the Sacramento Kings.
Assistant coach Kenny Natt has been elevated to interim coach. Natt is Sacramento’s fourth coach in less than three years, following Theus, Eric Musselman and Rick Adelman, who left the club after the 2005-06 season.
Theus is the sixth NBA coach to be fired before Christmas this season, joining Philadelphia’s Maurice Cheeks, Minnesota’s Randy Wittman, Toronto’s Sam Mitchell, Washington’s Eddie Jordan and Oklahoma City’s P.J. Carlesimo. The previous NBA record for pre-Christmas firings was three.
Theus, who coached at New Mexico State before coming to Sacramento, has a three year deal. How nice must it be to get paid for nothing for a year and a half when sports franchises fire coaches with time remaining on the contract
All sarcasm aside, Sacramento was 6-18 this year. The Kings ownership does have more than enough justification for the firing on that basis alone.