Central Notes: LeBron, Draft, Sexton, Zipser

Much has been made in the last week of the Cavaliers’ poor performance against the Celtics in Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals. One topic approached in particular is the potential free agency of LeBron James this summer. James, who has a player option worth a little more than $35.6MM, will again be the showcase of his free agent class like he was in 2010 if he decides to decline his option.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer opines that James, should he choose to enter the open market, may again change the way we think about free agency. O’Connor writes that as the most powerful player in the game, James could leave the Cavaliers and potentially land with the Rockets this offseason – most likely by opting in to his contract and forcing a sign and trade a la Chris Paul last season – then join the Sixers a year or two later before ending his career in Hollywood with the Lakers.

It may seem improbable, but as O’Connor notes, LeBron is probably the one player – other than perhaps Kevin Durant – who can get away with signing one-year contracts season after season, relying on his power and talent to confidently assure himself he’ll be able to sign another maximum-salary deal the next year. He’s been doing it with the Cavaliers ever since he returned to Cleveland in 2014.

Ultimately, while there likely won’t be another “The Decision” debacle if James ends up leaving the Cavaliers, it’ll be interesting to see where James ends up playing next season nonetheless.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Both the Bucks and Pacers have first round selections in this summer’s draft, with Milwaukee selecting at No. 17 and Indiana at No. 23. Beat writers J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star and Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel provide five potential draft targets for each team.
  • Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago takes a look at the fit of Alabama point guard Collin Sexton, aptly nicknamed “Young Bull,” as the pick for the Bulls at No. 7. Sexton, who was coached in college by former NBA coach Avery Johnson, averaged 24.2 points on 53 percent shooting, 4.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists in five postseason games this past season.
  • And speaking of the Bulls, Dan Santaromita of NBC Sports Chicago reports that reserve forward Paul Zipser underwent surgery on Wednesday to repair a broken left foot. Zipser has a non-guaranteed contract worth just over $1.54MM for next season.
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