LeBron James’ future continues to prompt NBA rumors despite the superstar signing a two-year, $97 million contract extension with the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2022 offseason. James does have a player option next summer that would allow him to be a free agent in 2024.
The only way the Lakers trade James is if the NBA legend pushes to be dealt, but there are no signs of this happening despite Kyrie Irving’s recruiting efforts on behalf of the Mavericks. Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz believes James should opt out next offseason and end his career with the Cavaliers.
“The Cavs just won 51 games and were the No. 1 defensive team in the NBA with a core four that averages 23.8 years in age,” Swartz wrote on June 16, 2023. “All that’s missing? An upgrade at small forward, one who can generate some offense after they looked stuck in the mud during their first-round meeting with the New York Knicks.
“A starting five of Garland, Mitchell, James, Mobley and Allen would be the best in the East, if not the entire NBA. With the Boston Celtics taking a step back this season, the Philadelphia 76ers possibly losing James Harden to free agency and the Milwaukee Bucks’ core growing older, the Cavaliers would quickly take over the conference once again by adding a talent like James to an already impressive young roster.”
LeBron James on a Cavaliers Reunion: ‘The Door’s Not Closed on That’
James created headlines during the 2022 NBA All-Star Weekend in Cleveland by leaving the door open for a potential return to the Cavs. Since then, James signed a new deal with the Lakers, but the star can become a free agent after this upcoming season as referenced above.
“The door’s not closed on that,” James told The Athletic’s Jason Lloyd for a February 19, 2022 feature. “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.”
A strong argument can be made that the Cavaliers have a much more appealing roster than the Lakers. James could potentially form a new big three alongside Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland, not to mention Evan Mobley’s upside. Cleveland is projected to have $30.4 million in cap space during the 2024-25 offseason, per Spotrac, meaning the franchise would have to work some magic to afford James unless the superstar is willing to take a significant pay cut.
NBA Rumors: Could LeBron James Team Up With His Son Bronny James on the Cavs?
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Irving is attempting to push James to join him in Dallas despite plenty of rumors linking the point guard to Los Angeles. James would have to demand a trade to Dallas, and there is no evidence that the four-time NBA champion wants out of LA.
The Lakers star has been open about his desire to play in the NBA with his oldest son Bronny James. James’ namesake committed to play at USC and the soonest the guard is eligible to play in the NBA in 2024. It is not a coincidence that James has a player option this same offseason that would allow him to potentially join the franchise that drafts Bronny.
This would require his son to emerge as a legitimate 2024 NBA draft prospect. Swartz makes the argument for the Cavaliers making a run at the James duo.
“When the Cavs traded for Mitchell last September, they agreed to send unprotected first-round picks in 2025, 2027 and 2029 while also including the right to swap first-rounders in 2026 and 2028,” Swartz added. “Cleveland already owed a first-rounder to the Indiana Pacers this summer.
“This means the only year the Cavaliers didn’t surrender full control over their first-round pick between now and the following decade is 2024, when Bronny is draft-eligible and James is free to pick his next team.”