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James will become a free agent in just a few hours from now.

Houston: While the Rockets once seemed a good fit, James declining his option all but eliminated the chances of him joining up with close friend Chris Paul and MVP James Harden. Los Angeles has increased its win total by exactly nine games in each of the last two years. In 2010, James bolted Cleveland in a nationally televised announcement "The Decision", infamously declaring he was taking his "talents to South Beach" to join the Miami Heat.

The Cavaliers can offer James the most money under National Basketball Association rules, a five-year deal worth $209 million, and he could also sign a short-term deal. The Cavs have tried to trade him multiple times since they acquired him in 2014.

Thus, remaining in Cleveland or going to Los Angeles - where he owns a home - remain the two most likely options for James to pursue.

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In addition, the Philadelphia 76ers are reportedly discussing ways to jump into the Leonard sweepstakes, with Sports Illustrated reporting Thursday that the Sixers, cognizant of the Lakers' advanced timeline, are having internal discussions on making their first official offer for Leonard.

The Lakers, on the other hand, know exactly what they need to do: find another star to pair with James. All other teams can offer a max deal of four years and $152 million. ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reported this week that James would not be seeking elaborate pitch meetings during the free-agency process. Ultimately, it is his choice, and if he wants to spend the rest of his career in Los Angeles, and live with his family full-time there, that is very much his right. Hoops Hype reported several notable veterans have said privately they would be willing to play with James for the minimum.

A source familiar with the Cavs' thinking said re-signing James is Cleveland's "Plan A, B and C" when it comes to free agency. But if James chooses, he can essentially pick any team and make it happen.

He's coming off another fabulous season that saw him average 34 points, 9.1 rebounds and nine assists on 53.9 per cent shooting, but also a second straight defeat to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals - and the third in four years.


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