If LeBron James decides not to ink an extension with the Los Angeles Lakers, expect the Cleveland Cavaliers to keep a keen eye on the superstar’s situation.
James became eligible for an extension on Thursday, August 4 and could put a lot of drama to bed if he gets it done quickly. If he does not and instead plays out next season without certainty about his future, expect the rumor mill the churn at a lightspeed pace.
Some speculation has already started to surface over James’ future, with the four-time MVP being linked to the Cavaliers — his former squad. Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com believes a reunion with James is something the team would be open to.
“For the wing-needy Cavs, it’s a situation worth watching,” Fedor wrote on August 3. “They are open to the idea — even though the terms of a potential return would need to be radically different than 2014.”
Fedor mentions that the Cavs aren’t plotting their future around the thought of “The King” coming home. They have a strong, youthful core with Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen and Rookie of the Year runner-up Evan Mobley. But James would instantly make them one of the top title contenders and have some flexibility to make it work, which ESPN’s Bobby Marks noted.
“Until a James extension is signed in Los Angeles, the Cleveland Cavaliers should be a team to keep an eye on next offseason,” Marks wrote on August 3. ” The Cavaliers have a strong nucleus consisting of Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen and could have more than $30 million in cap space in 2023. Would James return for a third tenure in Cleveland if he views the Lakers roster as not championship-worthy?”
James Has Fueled Speculation of Return to Cavaliers
James has done his part in revving up the rumors that he could be eyeing a return to Cleveland with his comments during All-Star weekend.
“The door’s not closed on that,” James told The Athletic 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.”
James spent two different stints with his hometown team. He was drafted by the Cavaliers No. 1 overall in 2003, establishing himself as a superstar and leading the Cavs deep into the postseason multiple times. After some time with the Heat, James returned and led the way as Cleveland won the title in 2016.
The Lakers’ current roster construction has been questioned as championship-worthy, especially coming off a campaign where they missed the postseason a year ago as James and co-star Anthony Davis dealt with injuries. Meanwhile, the Cavs have been praised for their turnaround and James gushed about the roster.
“I think [Cavs GM Koby Altman] and those guys have done an unbelievable job drafting and making trades,” James said.
Many Skeptical About James Leaving Lakers
Not everyone is convinced that James wants to leave Los Angeles, with one of the main reasons being his family.
“They know he ain’t leaving now,” ESPN analyst Jalen Rose said on NBA Today on August 3. “So it don’t even matter what happens with the contract. They know they got the house out here, the wife out here, they know the kids out here.
“We always think about it as LeBron James the superstar, not always LeBron James the father, the dad, the human being. I don’t think he’s gonna necessarily wanna uproot to go play somewhere else.”
Even if James doesn’t ink an extension, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be on the move. He’s always been very strategic with his negotiations and he clearly wants to set up some kind of future where he plays with his son, Bronny, while also staying in the mix for a title.