NBA: LeBron says Cavs have edge in free agency
AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND — One month from the start of the NBA's free agency frenzy, LeBron James said he's not close to making any decision.
However, he has handicapped his field of suitors.
The Cleveland Cavaliers lead the pack.
In his first interview since the Cavs' season ended with a shocking, second-round loss to Boston, James told CNN's Larry King that Cleveland has "an edge" to re-sign him when the greatest collection of free agents in league history hits the open market on July 1.
King, who interviewed James at the two-time MVP's home near Akron on Tuesday, asked the superstar if Cleveland has "an edge going in?"
"Absolutely," James said in a portion of the interview released by the network. "Because, you know, this city, these fans, I mean, have given me a lot in these seven years. And, you know, for me, it's comfortable. So I've got a lot of memories here. And so it does have an edge.
"It's going to be a very interesting summer and I'm looking forward to it."
Also during the interview, which will air Friday on CNN's "Larry King Live," James said he can't wait for July 1 to arrive and that he has not yet decided where he'll sign.
"I'm far from close," he was quoted as saying in a transcript posted on WEWS-TV's website in Cleveland. "July is still a month away, less than a month away. I've thought about it, but I haven't began to strategize exactly."
James also made his first comments about former Cavs coach Mike Brown, who was fired in the aftermath of Cleveland's startling loss to the Celtics. James said he was sorry to see Brown let go after five seasons.
"He was a great coach, five great years we had together and we turned a franchise that hadn't seen a lot of things in a lot of years," James said.
"But ultimately, we both, myself and Mike Brown, didn't accomplish what we wanted to, and that was (win) the NBA championship. And I think we wanted it more than anybody else.
"So it's unfortunate. I wish him the best and I think he's going to have a great coaching career."
Before sitting down with King, James had not talked any media members since the Cavs were eliminated by the Celtics, who then knocked off Orlando and will meet the Los Angeles Lakers in the finals starting Thursday.
James believes the Celtics can beat the Lakers and win their 18th NBA title.
He also plans to meet with Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and others in a star-studded summit of free agents to talk about their future plans.
"I am the ringleader," James told King.
The New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, New Jersey Nets and Los Angeles Clippers are among a group of teams expected to make a strong push for James, who is humbled by all the attention as well as recent comments by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who wants him to sign with the Knicks, and President Barack Obama, who would like to see him step into Michael Jordan's shadow with the Bulls.
James seemed intrigued by the Clippers and the chance to play near Hollywood.
"They've got some really good players. Some really nice, solid pieces that, if they add a free agent here or a free agent there, it could be a really good team. It's a great city. But at the same time, it's not always about the city. It's about winning. If you put me and Bosh on the same team, if you put me and Dwayne Wade on the same team, a lot of teams would be much better. You know, the Cavs would be much better."
And while he'll consult with advisers, family and friends, James said the choice of his next team will up to one person.
"It's going to be me," he said. "I'm going to have to sit down and say 'where do you want to play'?
James has spent all seven seasons as a pro with the Cavs, who offered him a contract extension last year and can give him $30 million more than any other team in a maximum-length deal.