Live on-air slip-up by Klutch CEO Rich Paul gives major hint at LeBron James' future

Boston Celtics v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Four
Boston Celtics v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Four / Nick Cammett/GettyImages

Over the past few seasons, the connections between the Lakers and Nuggets have grown and the teams have become somewhat rivals. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has famously gone from one side to the other, winning a title with the Lakers in 2020 after beating the Nuggets in the conference finals. 

But years later, KCP was on the other side, helping the Nuggets defeat the Lakers in the West Finals en route to a championship. The teams have squared off three times in the past five years in the playoffs and they both have title aspirations again next season.

Nuggets & Lakers rivalry alive and well

It’s further fueling the rivalry that Nuggets assistant coach David Adelman has been named as a candidate to take over the Lakers head coaching job. That position, of course, was vacated when the Lakers fired Darvin Ham after their loss to the Nuggets in round one.

But all of this could become moot if the Lakers make major roster changes this offseason and now there is some reason to wonder about the status of superstar, LeBron James. James has been in LA since 2018 and with his family rooted there, most believe LeBron will end his illustrious career with the Lakers. 

But there are other schools of thought; one that LeBron may need to go elsewhere to win another ring and another that he may want to play with his son Bronny above all. James has a player option this offseason for $51.4 million. He could opt-in and play out the deal, he could opt-in and sign a two-year max extension with the Lakers, or he could opt out and become an unrestricted free agent.

LeBron James appears to be heading for free agency

On Friday night, the CEO of Klutch Sports and a good friend of James, Rich Paul went on the TNT atl-cast, broadcasting the Western Conference finals live on television. Paul was asked about James’ future and started by uttering, “LeBron is a free agent”. This would seem to imply that James is planning to opt out and test the open market.

This doesn’t mean anything is set in stone, but it’s a good indication. James could opt out and still re-sign with the Lakers, but there are plenty of other suitors that would try to woo him away, such as the 76ers who have max cap space available and could tempt LeBron with a trio of Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, and James in a watered down Eastern Conference.

We’ve seen James make bold decisions in the past and he certainly has a flare for the dramatic. Opting out of his deal would be step one to LeBron joining a new team, and if Rich Paul’s comments are any indication, that’s the direction LeBron is headed.