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LeBron James ‘nowhere near’ decision on 2016 Olympics

Olympics Day 16 - Basketball

Olympics Day 16 - Basketball

NBAE/Getty Images

Kevin Durant says he plans to play in the 2016 Olympics. So does Paul George (and he has a spot saved). Chris Paul, as of last check, was leaning toward participating.

How about you, LeBron James?

LeBron, via the Associated Press:

“I’m nowhere near there,” James said. “I haven’t even thought about it too much. Obviously I know what’s going on and what’s happening. I haven’t decided.”

Last summer, a report described LeBron as “doubtful” for the 2016 Olympics. Before the season, LeBron said he hoped to play in Rio. By January, he was non-committal.

Among the 28 players announced in January for the Team USA player pool, I ranked LeBron the eighth-most likely to make the Olympic team. His relative low rank was mainly due to his age, 31, at the time of the Olympics.

Complicating matters further, LeBron could be a free agent the following summer. Really, LeBron could be a free agent any summer after signing a two-year contract with a player option.

At some point, LeBron will stop playing year-to-year and lock in a long-term max contract, and 2017 is a decent guess for when that will happen. By then, the cap will have increased under the new national TV deals, and that’s the first year the Cavaliers will have his full bird rights – meaning they can offer him five years rather than four and 7.5 percent raises rather than 4.5 percent.

It would be particularly risky for LeBron to compete before a long-term contract is settled.

But a lot can change between now in 2016 – in either direction. Durant’s commitment isn’t binding, and LeBron’s wouldn’t be, either. So his “nowhere near” is probably honest, and anything more committal would mean only so much, anyway.