Despite LeBron James sending out the Bat-Signal, the Cleveland Cavaliers have no plans to pursue a potential blockbuster trade with the Los Angeles Lakers for the superstar the team originally drafted, per NBA insider Marc Stein. The longtime hoops scribe cited the Cavaliers’ promising young roster as well as the complications that come with James as key reasons why Cleveland is not interested in pushing for a deal.
“First of all, they can’t publicly say anything about LeBron, he’s a Laker, he’s a player on another team,” Stein explained during a February 24 Spotify Greenroom session. “But I wrote it Monday, and I believe even more strongly now based on subsequent conversations. The Cavs do not want to do a third LeBron dance.
“This franchise, this organization, this ownership, this front office, they’ve had to hear for a zillion years, ‘You’ve never done anything without LeBron. LeBron is your only path to relevance and success. There hasn’t been a playoff berth without LeBron since ’98, which is the days of [Mike] Fratello.’
“They’ve built something really special in Cleveland. Something with long-term prospects in addition to how well they’re doing in the short term. I don’t think, again, if we could get their unfiltered thoughts, I really don’t think they want to remarry LeBron James and Klutch Sports, because when LeBron is with the team he puts a lot of pressure on the front office. He puts a lot of pressure on ownership. He wants to call the shots, and I don’t think they want to live that life again. They’ve lived it in two previous stints.”
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LeBron on a Cleveland Return: ‘The Door’s Not Closed on That’
Stein’s report comes after James’ revelation during NBA All-Star Weekend that the “door’s not closed on” a potential return to Cleveland for a third stint. James has since attempted to walk his comments back by publicly expressing his commitment to the Lakers, but the star’s previous statements mean the rumors about his future are not going anywhere.
“The door’s not closed on that,” James told The Athletic’s Jason Lloyd on February 19. “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.”
The Cavs Would Only Consider a Third Stint With LeBron if the Star Signed as a Free Agent: Report
Stein did leave the door cracked for the possibility of the Cavaliers backtracking from their current stance on James if the NBA legend wanted to join the team as a free agent. James still has one year remaining on his current contract, meaning the soonest he could sign with Cleveland would be 2023. The Lakers star is eligible to sign a contract extension with Los Angeles this offseason.
“Now, I will say if it got to the point that LeBron was openly saying, ‘I’m ready to come to Cleveland now,'” Stein added. “Let’s just say he played out the last year of his Laker deal and said, ‘I only want to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers.’ It would take serious, serious, serious stones from [Cavaliers owner] Dan Gilbert and [Cavs general manager] Koby Altman to say no, we are turning away the only guy who has delivered a championship in this city’s modern sports history.”
While there is no sign the Lakers would want to explore a trade for James, any hope the team may have had in potentially acquiring Evan Mobley or Darius Garland from Cleveland appears to be dwindling. Unless the Cavs change their tune, the Lakers’ best hope may be to build around James rather than entering into a full rebuild.