LeBron James' wife was reportedly not actually touring a school in Oklahoma City on Monday, but the Thunder might still hold a big key in the Cleveland Cavaliers' star's upcoming free agency decision.
This, of course, is because of Paul George. The All-Star guard has long been thought to be a future member of the Los Angeles Lakers, but the Thunder are reportedly growing increasingly optimistic that he's going to stay.
If George decides to stay put in Oklahoma City, and the Spurs are unwilling trade Kawhi Leonard to L.A., would James really end up going there on his own?
That seems doubtful.
NBA insider Ryen Russillo agrees.
The ESPN host tweeted the following this morning:
"Talking to league sources, Paul George feels like the key to this. If George stays in OKC, I don’t see LeBron going to LA solo," he tweeted.
This is a big week for James. His opt-in deadline is later this week. However, him opting out of the final year of his contract isn't necessarily bad news for Cleveland.
In fact, it could be good news. There might be more options for James this summer via a sign-and-trade than there are in free agency.
"If LeBron opts out it means Cleveland actually has less competition for him. I’ve always thought the list of teams is a lot shorter than what’s reported," Russillo added.
ESPN's Brian Windhorst has agreed.
"(Brian Windhorst) got into this on Friday's pod," ESPN's Zach Lowe tweeted. "As Ryen says, the option decision is really interesting. Opting in unlocks more trade scenarios. Sign-and-trade is theoretically possible, but really complex for some teams due to cap/tax restrictions. Opt-in-and-trade way easier."
It's certainly going to be a very interesting couple of days. James' deadline to opt into his 2018-19 contract is Friday. Free agency begins on Sunday.