Hughes believes LeBron James will stay with the Cleveland Cavaliers

BY Frank Isola

Larry Hughes understands that the chances of him returning to the Knicks next season are slim to none. Unfortunately, the same may be true of one Hughes’ best friends as well.Hughes reiterated Wednesday that he believes LeBron James, the Knicks’ primary free agent target, will re-sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers when James becomes a free agent next summer.

"I still feel that way," Hughes said following the Knicks’ practice in Greenburgh, N.Y. "He’s got a good opportunity to win there. And I know a lot of people talk about him playing in a big market, but he just wants to win a ring. It’s not about playing in a big market."

Hughes speaks regularly to his former teammate with the Cavs and maintains that James is content with the direction of the club. Hughes was with Cleveland when James reached his first NBA Finals in 2007. After the Cavs were eliminated by Orlando in the Eastern Conference Finals last May, the club acquired Shaquille O’Neal, Anthony Parker, Leon Powe and Jamario Moon.

Like LeBron, Hughes will also become a free agent next summer, but his future and present for that matter remain unsettled. Hughes is versatile enough to play three positions, but with the Knicks committed to their younger players – Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Nate Robinson and Toney Douglas – and with Mike D’Antoni committed to using a shorter rotation, Hughes could be the odd man out.

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