With LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on the brink of elimination, the rumblings about the star forward’s future are starting to get louder.

James likely will opt out of his contract with the Cavs after the season, and the list of teams that he may or may not be interested in joining is getting longer. And the Boston Celtics slowly are rising from morning-show hot take to a legitimate dark horse to acquire King James’ elite talent.

On Wednesday, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith claimed that James would meet with the Celtics this offseason, along with the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, Philadelphia 76ers and Golden State Warriors, among others.

And ESPN’s Chris Haynes added to the LeBron-Celtics rumblings on Tim Kawakami of The Athletic’s podcast Thursday. When discussing James’ potential destinations, Haynes threw out a mega darkhorse before noting that James and the Celtics could be a possibility, albeit a far off one.

“I’m going to throw out a darkhorse, the Toronto Raptors. I’m gonna throw out the Toronto Raptors, and let’s not overlook the Boston Celtics,” Haynes said, as transcribed by MassLive’s Tom Westerholm. “I think the Boston Celtics are in that realm with Golden State. If Boston reached out and said ‘We’re serious,’ LeBron would listen.”

Of course, James most likely will prioritize championships wherever his next stop is, and the Celtics are set up for long-term success thanks to a young nucleus and head coach Brad Stevens. So it makes sense that Boston has entered the fray even if it’s barely on the fringe at this point.

Obviously, there is the issue of Kyrie Irving, who demanded a trade away from James last offseason. It’s hard to gauge where their relationship is at, but if the C’s get the opportunity to pitch to and sign arguably the greatest player of all-time, then they have to do it.

Boston remains a long shot to sign James. But never say never, especially when Danny Ainge is involved.

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