James addressed the lure of having flexibility last week in his exit interview after the Heat lost to San Antonio in the NBA Finals.
"Being able to have flexibility as a professional, anyone, that’s what we all would like," James said last week. "That’s in any sport, for a football player, a baseball player, a basketball player, to have flexibility and be able to control your future or your present. I have a position to be able to do that. … There’s a lot of times that you’re not in control of your future as a professional."
League sources confirm to @FOXSports1 that LeBron has opted out of his contract.
• The former UCLA Bruin will return to the Golden State — OK, Golden State — as part of a three-team trade that makes Love a Warrior, Klay Thompson a Laker and the Timberwolves much heavier on draft picks.
Now certainly, Love would be an asset to any of the teams mentioned above — or any other NBA team in the market for a talented big man who averaged 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists last season, for that matter. Being that Love is looking to land somewhere that is ready for a deep playoff run, it seems Golden State and Chicago would make the most sense as they both are coming off playoff appearances, but anything is possible with other teams ready to make blockbuster moves before or during Thursday’s draft.
If the Bulls’ offer doesn’t interest Minnesota, the Timberwolves can always hold onto Love in the hopes of persuading him to extend his contract rather than opting out after the upcoming 2014-15 season. But expect it to be difficult for them to keep an All-Star when they have had little to no success as far as the postseason goes since he started his career with them in 2008.
But the NBA’s hot stove isn’t only simmering in Land of 10,000 Lakes. Here’s what else had the NBA abuzz Monday:
• Sounds like you can take Joel Embiid’s name off the Milwaukee Bucks’ draft board. Embiid, considered by most at the likely No. 1 overall pick as recently as a week ago, is now the draft’s biggest enigma after his recent foot surgery. The injury, which FOX Sports 1/ Yahoo Sports NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported will require 4-6 months’ recovery time, almost certainly will not go No. 1 to Cleveland. And based on the words of co-owner Marc Lasry, it sounds like Milwaukee, owner of the No. 2 overall pick, will be passing on the Kansas big man as well.
• One team that does appear interested in Embiid is Boston, sitting with the No. 6 and 17 picks. The Celtics are reportedly getting to see Embiid’s medical records before the draft, one of "only a select number of teams" getting to see the records.
• Speaking of that No. 1 overall pick, apparently the Jazz are interested in grabbing it from the Cavs. Here’s what Utah is offering, and why it might not happen:
• One of the more intriguing names in the draft is Croatian forward Dario Saric. Most mocks have him going in the top 12, but expect that to change. ESPN reported on Monday that the 6-foot-10 Saric has agreed to a three-year deal with a team in Turkey. The report said that the deal, two years with a player option for a third, would "essentially prohibit Saric from playing in the NBA for a minimum of two years" — but that does not mean a team cannot take Saric later in the draft and leave him stashed away in Europe for two years. Expect that to happen (after all, ask Tiago Splitter and Toni Kukoc how that plan works).
• And some pretty well-traveled and big-name veterans are making their impact on the draft, as well, as player options take their toll on teams’ salary cap space.
RT @DJJazzyJody: Jazz are offering Derrick Favors, Alec Burks and No. 5 pick to Cavs for No. 1 pick & Jarrett Jack, according to @1280Spence
Among the names making news with their opt-out decisions on Monday:
• Tim Duncan has decided to opt into to his final year with the Spurs, which was first reported by Wojnarowski. He will make about $10.3 million next season in the final year of a two-year agreement that was drawn up specifically to allow the Spurs the financial flexibility to surround Duncan with top-shelf talent.
• Sacramento Kings forward Rudy Gay will be exercising his $19.3 million contract option for the upcoming season, according Wojnarowski.