INDEPENDENCE, OHIO - Three years ago, after he had first returned to Cleveland following his four-year stint in South Beach, LeBron James said that he wanted to finish his career with the Cavaliers.
Now with free agency possibly less than a year away, The King says that hasn't changed. Asked at Cavaliers media day on Monday if he still intended to finish his career with the team he will have spent 11 of his first 15 years in the NBA with, James said he did, despite rumors and reports throughout the summer that have insisted otherwise.
"It hasn't changed," James said of his intention to finish his career in Cleveland. "That's why I sit up here today, still in this uniform, still ready to lead this franchise to a championship and put us in a position where we can still be successful."
But while James said that he's committed to the Cavs, the 4-time MVP also admitted that he's not looking past the 2017-18 season. And it just so happens that's when he can opt out of his contract with Cleveland -- the second extension he's signed with the team since returning from the Miami Heat in 2014.
"Anytime I'm able to either be a free agent or my contract is up, then I will approach that when the summer comes," James said.
This isn't James' first rodeo.
Should he opt out, 2018 would mark the fifth time in his career James will have hit the free agent market, although in both 2015 and 2016, it was a foregone conclusion he'd re-sign with the Cavaliers.
Next summer, however, could be more reminiscent of 2010 -- when James first left Cleveland, or 2014 -- when he returned.
Rumors and loosely sources reports have recently linked James to the Los Angeles -- in particular, the Lakers -- where James has made an offseason home. Only adding to the speculation of a potential James departure has been his infamously rocky relationship with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, who made a public visit to the White House in June.
Although James has been one of President Donald Trump's most outspoken critics, he said on Monday that hasn't affected his own status with the team or relationship with Gilbert.
As for any other factors that could potentially lead James out of town, those will have to wait, with his focus remaining on the 2017-18 season. When it comes to the future, James says he still intends to retire as a Cleveland Cavalier -- at least for now, anyway.
"I'm not going to give energy to something that I can handle in the summertime, when I should be focused on what I need to do on a day-to-day basis to help this franchise compete for a championship," James said.
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