LeBron to the Lakers This Summer? Not So Fast, According to a New Report

Folks around the NBA have murmured for more than a year now about LeBron James' purported interest in bolting to Los Angeles when he has the opportunity to opt out of his contract during the 2018 offseason. Would he really leave his hometown team twice in his career? That remains to be seen. But people around the league have suspected as much—and suspected that he's headed for Los Angeles—for a long time now.

LeBron owns two houses in L.A., and conquering the West would provide him with a new challenge—a new potential legacy boost, if you will. Also, the Lakers have a wealth of cap space, a promising young roster, and a storied history. If he could bring them back to prominence, well, it would do a ton for LeBron's place in the history books. Of the two L.A. franchises, it seemed way likelier that LeBron would desire a spot on the roster of the Lake Show.

According to a new report from two of the most plugged-in NBA reporters, however, the Lakers may pass on pursuing LeBron this offseason. As Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN report, the Lakers are focusing their efforts—and their cap space—on the free-agent class of 2019 rather than that of 2018. The 2019 class is indeed ripe with young talent; Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, and Jimmy Butler could be among the players on the market.

In 2018, it's expected that LeBron, Paul George, and DeMarcus Cousins will be available. But LeBron, as great as he is, is 33, George seems very interested in sticking with the Thunder, and Cousins just suffered an absolutely debilitating Achilles injury.

This recalibration also reportedly stems from the Lakers' lack of belief that LeBron is actually interested in joining the team. Though L.A. has a bunch of gifted young players—including Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Kyle Kuzma—there isn't a bona fide star on the roster. LBJ would be taking a big risk by signing with the yellow and purple.

A lot could change in the next few months, of course. The Lakers are still reportedly shopping Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson. But with this latest report, it looks a lot less certain that LeBron will head to Hollywood this summer.

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Mia Khalifa and Gilbert Arenas Talk About Joel Embiid Being a Bandwagon Fan on ‘Out of Bounds’

On today's Out of Bounds, the crew get into Jimmy Butler starring in a new country music video, whether it's cool for Joel “The Process” Embiid to cheer for both teams at the World Series, and how fucked up it is that players who never threw a punch got suspended in the fight between Draymond Green and Bradley Beal.

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Young Bulls Players Are Reportedly Sick of Dwyane Wade, Contract Buyout Is ‘Inevitable’

Earlier this offseason, Dwyane Wade opted in for the final year of his two-year deal with the Chicago Bulls, which seemed like a bizarre decision considering that the team is rebuilding and he's 35 years old (though feel free to point out that his $24 million salary is more than he would've commanded had he tested the market).

However, despite that development, D-Wade's days of being listed on Chicago's roster are clearly numbered, a fact that was once again echoed by ESPN's Nick Friedell on Tuesday, as he stated definitively that a buyout between the club and the 12-time All-Star is “inevitable.” Friedell made that statement during an airing of The Jump:

“This is inevitable. It's coming,” Friedell said. “It's just a matter of when not if. But right now, guys, it's just kind of a staring contest. Everybody's looking at each other saying 'OK, how much money are you willing to give up?'”

While saying that he didn't think the move would happen until December or January, Friedell also relayed that the young players on the Bulls had had enough of Wade, ever since he and Jimmy Butler aired them out after a loss to the Hawks this past January. The source of the contention, as you may remember, was Wade calling out his teammates in practice about working hard enough, despite the fact that he wasn't really practicing himself.

“The young players on the Bulls really can't stand Dwyane,” Friedell added. “It's no secret in Chicago, they have had enough.”

“He didn’t practice…but they really got upset because he called them all out in the media. And he said, 'You guys aren’t working hard enough.' And then they had a big team meeting the next day, and they said, 'Who are you to say we’re not working hard? Because we’re out there every day busting our butt.' So there’s a lot of friction there, a lot of tension.”

This info comes at the same time that there has been speculation about Wade joining the Cavs at some point in this upcoming season. And while that certainly would've been a much more exciting development a few years ago, it sounds like it couldn't come soon enough for players currently in the Bulls's locker room.

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The Kyrie Irving-LeBron James Relationship May Not Be Ruined After All

It seems there’s a new twist every day in the Kyrie Irving drama. To recap the major points: the 25-year-old point guard asked Cleveland for a trade in July. He said there were four teams he’d be wiling to go to: Miami, New York, Minnesota, and San Antonio. Then word got out that Kyrie wanted the trade because he was tired of playing with LeBron James, and he’d actually wanted to get out of town for a long time.

For now, it seems the Cavs are content to bide their time until a compelling offer comes along. They watched Chicago and Indiana deal their stars (Jimmy Butler and Paul George, respectively) for peanuts and then get roasted by the NBA world, and Cleveland doesn’t want to replicate the error of those franchises.

Thus, the big question is: if Cleveland wants to go into this season with both Kyrie and LeBron on the roster, could they coexist? Their former teammate Dahntay Jones thinks so.

Jones appeared on SiriusXM NBA Radio Thursday and said the rifts in their relationship have been dramatized in the media.

“Nothing's to a point where it can't be fixed,” Jones said. “It can be fixed with a small conversation.”

Jones spent parts of the last two seasons with James and Irving on the Cavs. Based on reports, it’s sure seemed like the relationship between the two stars is beyond the point of no return—it seems like they couldn’t play together this coming season. Adding to that narrative, James is back in Subtweet Bron form.

Jones clearly knows the two and the situation well, so we should take his opinion seriously, but it would still be a surprise if Kyrie were to suit up for Cleveland on opening night.

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Lonzo Ball Knew He Was Going To Be a Laker and (Maybe) Made NBA Draft History

If he was tipped off, he didn’t say. But if Lonzo Ball truly didn’t have assurance from the Lakers that he was going to be the second pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft, he felt it in his bones. Or more accurately his feet.

Because sitting in the green room, off to the right of the podium where commissioner Adam Silver announced all 30 first round selections, Ball decided to switch shoes once the Lakers were on the clock.  

Gone where the black hard bottoms he was sporting earlier. Out came a pair of the infamous Big Baller Brand ZO2s that retail for $495. Only these weren’t all black, like the ones that infamously debuted back in May. This pair was gold and purple—Lakers colors. And before Silver could say Ball’s name, he casually slipped on the sneakers because he just knew suiting up for his hometown team was his destiny.

“Just had a good feeling, and changed them five minutes before when they was on the clock, and I'm glad they called my name,” said Ball, in typically understated fashion.

The NBA’s signature fashion event, where 19-and-20-year-old kids get decked out in suits that would put every prom outside of Beverly Hills to shame, usually does not feature any wardrobe changes, other than the addition of a team hat once Silver calls your name. But Ball just might have authored an NBA first when he switched shoes in the middle of the draft.

Magic Johnson and the Lakers got their point guard of the present and future, one ESPN’s Jay Williams told us Wednesday could be “transcendent.”

Ball told Complex he changed “when [the Lakers] had the pick, right after Markelle” Fultz was chosen first by the Sixers. The Ball family had them hidden “right under the table” and Lonzo “had a feeling” he was about to be next selection. And that’s when he slipped into something way more comfortable and way more marketable than a pair of black dress shoes.

And really, Lonzo rocking a brand new colorway of the ZO2s was arguably one of the more interesting subplots to come out of the NBA Draft that didn't revolve around the Jimmy Butler trade to the Timberwolves or the prospect of Phil Jackson asininely shipping Kristaps Porzingis somewhere. Because the top part of the draft didn’t veer far from most projections. It was short on suspense and very predictable. 

Fultz went to the Sixers. Lonzo to the Lakers. Jayson Tatum to the Celtics at No. 3. Josh Jackson to the Suns at No. 4 and De’Aaron Fox, the guy who was rumored to be ahead of Ball on the Lakers’ draft board about a month ago, went to the Kings at No. 5.

In the end, LaVar Ball, with his swagger on a hundred, thousand, trillion at Barclays Center, could do his damn thing, talk his talk, and most especially walk his signature walk. His son was drafted to the only team he ever wanted him to play for, the team he predicted months ago would wind up with his son. LaVar proved to be a prophet.

Lonzo Ball LaVar Ball Green Room NBA Draft 2017
Image via USA Today Sports/Brad Penner

The man behind Big Baller Brand was surprisingly absent as Lonzo made his way through the arena's bowels, talking to reporters, taking part in NBA sanctioned obligations, and getting hounded by little kids for autographs. Usually, new draftees are paraded all over the arena with their handlers and based on how hands-on LaVar has been, it wasn’t out of the question to expect him to tail his son. But maybe it was by design that he didn’t, or maybe it was just happenstance that papa Ball had to stick around with the rest of his brood and babysit the younger LiAngelo and LaMelo while Lonzo basked in his crowning achievement of his 19 years of existence.

We didn’t really get to witness the bragging and boasting of LaVar afterward, which would have been gold. But he got what he wanted, what he predicted. And we, as NBA fans, got what was basically expected from the darft.

With the rest of the top 10 relatively bereft of drama, Lonzo winding up with the Lakers was arguably the biggest draft-specific story of the night. Lakers exec Magic Johnson got his point guard of the present and future, one ESPN’s Jay Williams told us Wednesday could be “transcendent.” Predictably, Lonzo was about as emotive as a robot, barely smiling or acting like a giddy teenager you’d expect most kids in his position to be.

But at least he was rocking the freshest kicks in the house, the ones nobody else was wearing or could get their hands at the time, the ones that he can most definitely afford now that's he's a Laker. 

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LeBron James Subtweets Dan Gilbert After Cavaliers Part Ways With General Manager David Griffin

The Cavaliers made a really surprising move on Monday night, and unfortunately for Cleveland fans, it didn’t have anything to do with the Jimmy Butler trade rumors that were swirling around earlier in the day.

Just hours after those Butler rumors started gaining some traction online, the Cavaliers and their general manager David Griffin announced that they had decided to part ways. Griffin—who had been with the team for three years and helped put together the roster that won a title just one year ago—had been seeking a contract extension from the Cavaliers for the last few months. But according to an ESPN.com report, Griffin and Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert were unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension in recent weeks. And with Griffin’s current contract set to expire at the end of June, the two sides broke off negotiations recently and decided it would be best to go their separate ways rather than continue to work together moving forward.

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Shortly after reports about the split started to circulate, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin released a statement that Griffin put out about the situation. In it, Griffin thanked the Cavaliers organization and briefly touched on why he and Gilbert weren’t able to agree on a new contract:

“I am extremely excited for my next challenge in the NBA,” Griffin said, “however Dan and I know now that [the Cavaliers] are a team built largely on the concept of fit and are now at the point where the fit is not right for us to continue with one another.”

Gilbert also released a statement and thanked Griffin for everything he did during his time in Cleveland:

“On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Griff for his leadership and many contributions during his time here, including most recently, his role in the franchise’s first NBA Championship,” Gilbert said.

In his statement, Gilbert added that there would be “no announcement at this time related to new leadership of the Cavaliers basketball operations group.” But ESPN’s Brian Windhorst is reporting that the Cavaliers might be interested in hiring former NBA star Chauncey Billups to play an important role in their front office. They are reportedly going to meet with him on Tuesday:

Billups is very close with Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue, so he could end up being a great addition to the team. But it sounds like there are some people within the Cavaliers organization who were not happy with the way the team handled Griffin’s departure.

LeBron James in particular seemed like he was displeased with the idea of the Cavaliers cutting ties with Griffin. Back in April, he told ESPN that he wanted to see Cleveland give Griffin a new deal, and shortly after the Cavaliers announced that he wouldn’t be back on Monday night, LeBron appeared to subtweet Gilbert in a thank-you tweet he sent out to Griffin:

Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck also reported that LeBron was “disappointed” and “concerned” over the situation. Beck pointed out that LeBron and Griffin had a great working relationship over the course of the last three years:

LeBron wasn’t the only “concerned” one in Cleveland, either. There were a lot of NBA fans who enjoyed seeing LeBron subtweet Gilbert:

But Cavaliers fans are worried about what it could mean for LeBron’s future with the team. There are already rumors out there about how he could leave the team next year to play for one of the two teams located in Los Angeles. And after he sent out his subtweet, there were even more fans speculating about how Griffin leaving could impact LeBron’s decision to stay in Cleveland next summer:

And just a reminder: All of this comes less than two weeks after LeBron addressed the infamous Comic Sans letter Gilbert wrote after he left Cleveland back in 2010. More than a few people have alluded to that letter over the last 12 hours:

Could this really be the beginning of the end for LeBron’s second tenure in Cleveland? That remains to be see. But this summer just got a lot more interesting for the Cavaliers and their fans.

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Sneaker Shopping With Joey Badass

In the latest episode of Sneaker Shopping, Joey Badass connects with Joe La Puma at Alumni in his hometown of Brooklyn to chop it up about sneakers, hanging with Russell Westbrook, and more.

Joey’s been lacing up in Jordans since he was a toddler, and he shares a few sneaker stories from his childhood. He also names the 12s as his favorite Jordan.

As far as rapper-sneaker collaborations go, Joey says he’s rocking with what Adidas has done in the past, and also reveals he may have something in the works with the company. “I got a few tricks up my sleeve,” he says. “Something coming.”

Check out the full episode above to see what Joey copped, and pre-order his album All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ on iTunes, which is due out April 7 on Pro Era/Cinematic. For more episodes of Sneaker Shopping featuring Desiigner, Shane McMahon, and Jimmy Butler, visit here.

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Sneaker Shopping With Jimmy Butler

There's a nostalgic feeling around Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler, whether he wants to admit it or not. He plays in Chicago, gets buckets, and is sponsored by Jordan Brand. Sounds familiar, right? He's also the latest guest on Complex's Sneaker Shopping with Joe La Puma, and they got together to browse the shelves at Saint Alfred, Chicago's finest sneaker boutique.

In the episode, Butler talks about playing basketball against Michael Jordan, but there's one thing he didn't do: Talk about Adidas, his former sponsor. He also got to visit the White House and meet Barack Obama, all while wearing a pair of Air Jordans. Turns out that Obama was feeling his bold style choice.

To see what he purchased, watch the video above.

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