His own words: What LeBron James has said about Cleveland, free agency

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LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers talks to the media during Media Day at Cleveland Clinic Courts on September 25, 2017 in Independence, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

CLEVELAND– LeBron James can opt out of his contract with the Cavs, become an unrestricted free agent and leave Cleveland for a second time.

The official start of free agency is July 1, but the LeBron rumors have been non-stop since the playoffs.

Here’s a look back at what James has said about the possibility of staying in Cleveland and free agency:

July 11, 2014: LeBron’s letter in Sports Illustrated

At 29 years old, LeBron announced his decision to return to Cleveland after four seasons in Miami in an essay for Sports Illustrated.

“My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question. But what’s most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio.

“I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there. I just didn’t know when. After the season, free agency wasn’t even a thought. But I have two boys and my wife, Savannah, is pregnant with a girl. I started thinking about what it would be like to raise my family in my hometown. I looked at other teams, but I wasn’t going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland. The more time passed, the more it felt right. This is what makes me happy.”

Aug. 8, 2014: LeBron James Homecoming Celebration

Before the event at InfoCision Stadium in Akron, James spoke briefly to reporters and said:

“I’m not going anywhere ever again… I don’t have the energy (for free agency).”

Aug. 11, 2016: LeBron re-signs with Cavs

After the Cavaliers won their first NBA title, James declined his player option to became a free agent and sign a three-year, $100 million deal. In a video on Uninterrupted, he said:

“Just want to let ya’ll know, man, I’m re-signing back with the Cleveland Cavaliers. My hometown team. I can’t be more excited.”

Sept. 25, 2017: Cavs Media Day

When asked if his intentions have changed to finish his career in Cleveland, LeBron responded:

“It hasn’t changed. And that’s why I sit up here today, still in this uniform, still ready to lead this franchise to a championship, put us in a position where we can be successful… I’ll approach that when the summer comes. I won’t ever cheat my teammates or cheat the fans in a situation where I’m worried or talking about free agency all year long. Because I’m not going to give energy to something that I can handle in the summertime, when I should be focused on what I need to do on a day to day basis to help this franchise compete for a championship because that’s what the front office wants.”

Feb. 2, 2018: LeBron to Warriors?

ESPN reported the 14-time All Star would consider signing with Golden State during his approaching free agency if they freed up cap space. Reporters asked James about it at the Cavs practice facility the next day. He called it a “non-story.”

“My focus right now is on this team and trying to figure out how we can get back to a fourth NBA Finals and compete for a championship. Everything else, if it’s not about this team. If you want to ask me about this team, I can answer it, good, bad or ugly. But please, for the rest of this season, don’t ask me about nothing else, no other team, unless we’re competing against them the next night, or you wanna ask me about a highlight that happened before. Don’t ask me about being on a team or on another team because it’s unfair to my teammates.”

June 8, 2018: Game 4 of the NBA Finals

After the Warriors swept the Cavaliers, LeBron was asked about free agency.

“I have no idea at this point. The one thing that I’ve always done is consider my family, understanding especially where my boys are at this point in their age. They were a lot younger the last time I made a decision like this four years ago. I got a teenage boy, a preteen and a little girl right now that wasn’t around as well. So sitting down and considering everything, my family is a huge part of whatever I’ve decided to do in my career and they’ll continue to be that. So I don’t have an answer for you right now as far as that.”

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