CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers play the New York Knicks tonight in Madison Square Garden.
Cleveland forward LeBron James, who will almost certainly become an unrestricted free agent in July, knows what his team’s only road game against the Knicks this season will mean.
So does fun-loving Cleveland center Shaquille O’Neal.
O’Neal walked by James’ locker Thursday while the 24-year-old was doing his pregame session with the media and offered his teammate $5 million, presumably for James to announce his future plans right then and there.
When James smiled and declined, O’Neal upped the offer to $10 million and offered to deliver it to James’ house in a bag, in cash.
James smiled again, but didn’t bite.
“I’m looking forward to winning an NBA championship here,” James said at Quicken Loans Arena prior to a game against the Chicago Bulls. “This is going to be a long season. I can’t think about July 1 or after that, about what is going to happen. I’ll worry about that when it comes.”
James always seems to relish his sessions with the New York media, but insists he’s never done anything to intentionally fuel the flames.
“I don’t tease,” he said. “I have never teased the New York media and said I was going to play for the Knicks. I say the same thing every time: When July 1 gets here, I’m going to approach it like a businessman and approach it the best way that fits LeBron and his family.
“I’ve been a Cav for seven years now. I’ve never given any indication that I’m leaving. For me to say, ‘I’m not going to be a Knick, I’m going to be a Cav,’ or ‘I’m not going to be a Cav, I’m going to be a Knick,’ I’m not going to do that right now.”
James was in an extremely good mood prior to the Bulls game, perhaps because his favorite baseball team, the New York Yankees, won the World Series on Wednesday.
The pinstripers will hold their victory parade at 11 a.m. today, which is nine hours before the Cavaliers tip off against the Knicks at MSG.
“My parade starts at 8 o’clock,” James quipped.
When a Chicago reporter asked if he had ever thought about playing for the Bulls, James said, “I’ve thought about playing everywhere. Every team in the NBA, I’ve thought about playing with one day.”
Asked if that included the Los Angeles Clippers, James reiterated, “Everybody.”
“We’ll see what happens,” he said. “I’ve never given any indication I’m going to leave Cleveland.”
Though the Yankees have the highest payroll in all of sports, James doesn’t think they bought a championship.
“At the end of the day, money can’t help you swing the baseball bat,” he said. “Money can’t help you grab the ball or turn a double play. Money can’t close out a game.”
Asked what the NBA might be like without a salary cap, James smiled and said, “I can only imagine. If you had a big-time owner and he had some money in a great city …” James didn’t finish that thought, but he did wonder out loud about a potential one-year, $75 million deal.
The Cavaliers entered Thursday with a three-game winning streak, all by double figures. In that stretch, they held opponents to .413 shooting and 85.3 points. For the season, Cleveland was fifth in the league in field goal percentage allowed (.427) and sixth in points allowed (90.4). In addition, the Cavaliers were second in points allowed in the paint (30.0 per game) and sixth in second-chance points (11.2).
There was no word out of Maryland on when Delonte West’s arraignment on weapons charges would be. Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey said Tuesday it would be late this week.
l The Bulls were without centers Jerome James (right Achilles) and Aaron Gray (stress fracture in leg).
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or .
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