This is a pivotal offseason for the Los Angeles Lakers in a lot of ways. The last few years were spent mortgaging the team’s future in an effort to help LeBron James win titles immediately. Once he’s gone, the team could be in serious trouble for a while. What’s especially concerning is that he’s due for a contract extension this offseason but it’s looking like he’ll play out his contract and weigh his options after the season.
If LeBron left the team for nothing, it would be an unmitigated disaster. This is likely why the Lakers are currently heavily involved in Kyrie Irving rumors. If the team is great this season, there’s no reason to be worried about LeBron leaving. If the Lakers are terrible again, there could be a team that might have the means to steal him from Los Angeles.
LeBron hasn’t been shy about his love for the city of Cleveland. He’s the first basketball player to bring a title to the city. The Cavaliers were a much better team than the Lakers last season but still need a bonafide superstar to get over the hump. They need LeBron. While it’s still a long shot that he goes to Cleveland for a third time, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst suggested that the Cavaliers’ offseason should be watched carefully as they could be trying to make space for a run at LeBron next year.
“If you want to have a conspiracy theory, watch the Cavs’ moves over the next couple of weeks,” Windhorst said on “Get Up.” “They are going to extend Darius Garland, their All-Star point guard. That is going to happen. But they have a couple other moves that they could do that would potentially eat away their cap space for next year which is what I would think they would do as a young team. They should never be a free agent player. But if the Cavs do not retain Collin Sexton. And they do not extend Caris LaVert, which is two things on their menu of options. And they leave open their cap space in 2024, er, 2023, it’s interesting food for thought. Just keep an eye on that.”
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LeBron Opened up Door for Cavs Return Last Season
After LeBron won a championship with the Lakers in his second season, it looked like he found his final team. He was clearly happy and had a superstar teammate in Anthony Davis. Two years later and things aren’t as harmonious. During the Lakers’ miserable 2021-2022 season, LeBron was asked about a possible return to the Cavaliers and had an eye-opening answer.
“The door’s not closed on that,” LeBron told The Athletic back in February. “I’m not saying I’m coming back and playing, I don’t know. I don’t know what my future holds. I don’t even know when I’m free.”
LeBron could’ve just been having fun but it’s something the Lakers need to keep an eye on. Vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka should be listening to Windhorst’s conspiracy theory and prepare for a possible exit if the Cavaliers start following a pattern.
Would LeBron Actually Leave the Lakers?
LeBron has embraced Los Angeles since joining the Lakers. He’s made movies, his family is happy and he’s been seen at Rams games. Uprooting his family again and taking them back to Cleveland might not be as appealing as it sounds on the surface.
The Lakers would have to be an unmitigated disaster this upcoming season for LeBron to consider this. It’s hard to imagine they will be as bad. LeBron is happy with new head coach Darvin Ham and the team is trying to make moves. He’s still likely to be the Lakers until his son Bronny James enters the NBA, which is still a couple of years away.
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