LeBron James becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2023, and ever since the Los Angeles Lakers star told Jason Lloyd of The Athletic that he hasn’t ruled out playing for his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers again, whispers about the King leaving the Lakers for the Cavaliers have gotten loud.
Cleveland big man Kevin Love, who has a close relationship with LeBron, recently did an interview with Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated and the five-time All-Star was asked if he thinks LBJ will leave the Lakers for the Cavaliers in 2023.
“After 2018, did [I] know he was going to the Lakers? I was like, eh, had some sort of an idea that it was a possibility, like a strong possibility I should say, but no, I don’t see any,” Love said. “He obviously loves our makeup. He loves our team, he has a special bond with Akron, the city of Cleveland, Ohio. But no, I don’t really get a feel for that as of right now. But you know, with him, it could change.”
LeBron last played for the Cavaliers during the 2017-18 season. He signed with the Lakers in the summer of 2018 and won his fourth title and fourth Finals MVP in 2020. However, since Los Angeles will miss the playoffs this season and Cleveland is on the upswing, a return to the Cavaliers in 2023 could make sense for the Chosen One.
Cavaliers Could Become Contenders if LeBron Came Back
The Cavaliers have a great core. The featured players are Love, Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Lauri Markkanen and Collin Sexton.
If LeBron joined this group in 2023, Cleveland could become a dangerous team.
“I think Koby (Altman) and those guys have done an unbelievable job drafting and making trades,” LeBron told Lloyd during All-Star weekend. “I think big fella (Allen), that acquisition was amazing for them to make that trade. Obviously, Darius Garland is a big-time player. And I think the role that Kevin (Love) is playing right now has kind of uplifted those young guys, seeing a veteran that could sacrifice, a champion that’s won a championship, all the things that he’s done, to come off the bench and play this role. I am not surprised by anything that they’re doing right now.”
LeBron will be 38 when the 2023-24 season starts and 39 when the campaign ends. He’s averaging 30.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists for the Lakers this season at 37 years old, so he’s still one of the best players in the NBA. No one knows what the Akron Hammer will do in the summer of 2023, but Love would love for LeBron to come back home and try to win a second championship for his hometown.
It’s worth mentioning, though, that one of the most plugged-in Lakers reporters doesn’t believe LeBron will leave the Lakers.
Ramona Shelburne: LeBron ‘Doesn’t Want to Leave LA’
During a February appearance on the Mason & Ireland Show on ESPN Radio in Los Angeles, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne said she believes there’s a 90% chance LeBron will be on the purple and gold after the 2022-23 season.
“He doesn’t want to leave LA,” Shelburne said. “He came here for a reason. This is a real reaction from someone I asked this weekend: ‘Hey, that Cleveland talk was interesting.’ This is a person who would know: ‘Well, what did you expect LeBron to say? No, I’m never coming back here?’ This is his hometown. He won a championship here. He has a house there. His high school friends are there. I think it was nostalgia. … Does he wanna relocate again? He likes living in LA. He likes it here. Now, if the team is horrible, OK, but I don’t think they’re gonna be horrible. I think they’re gonna reboot over the summer. They’re gonna have LeBron and AD (Anthony Davis) again, which is always a good combination.”
It’s going to be intriguing to track LeBron’s future with the Lakers.