“I personally always said he was staying,” Durant said on The Bill Simmons Podcast.
“I told him this,” Durant added. “That’s me. I feel like he’s going to end it in Cleveland. That’s his crib now. He run it and he gonna turn it into something mega when he’s done. He’s going to do something.”
LeBron can become a free agent next summer.
The Cavs, meanwhile, are said to be working under the widely-held assumption that James will bolt.
Per The Ringer:
Multiple sources told me that [Dan] Gilbert is operating under the assumption that LeBron will opt out of his contract next summefr and leave Cleveland. So Gilbert and Altman targeted (Kyrie) Irving trade packages that set up the franchise for the post-LeBron era, rather than the instant-gratification deals they’ve made over the last three years (e.g., trading first-rounders for Channing Frye or Kyle Korver).
A front-office executive from another team inquiring about Irving told me that knowing LeBron was staying in Cleveland would have changed what the Cavs asked for in return for Kyrie. Though a wide range of league sources believe LeBron is LeGone, it’s not certain. Regardless, Cleveland doesn’t want to be caught flat-footed. The variety of assets included in Boston’s Irving offer allowed Cleveland to be competitive in 2017–18 while preparing for life after LeBron. Cleveland might have considered [Isaiah] Thomas the third-most valuable incoming asset, but the team still wanted a healthy version of him.
Gilbert criticized the Indiana Pacers for the Victor Oladipo–and–Domantas Sabonis package they accepted for Paul George, reflecting a sentiment held by much of the public back in July. Now, he’s embroiled in his own blockbuster-trade controversy, fielding criticisms that could have dire ramifications. Multiple sources with knowledge of Gilbert’s mind-set believe the Cavs owner cares deeply about how the deal will be seen today and in the future, both internally and across the league—Thomas’s health and a less enthusiastic James and (Tyronn) Lue had Gilbert shook.