When LeBron James returned home to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014, it seemed like it was a foregone conclusion that he was coming back for the remainder of his NBA career.
However, after James’ NBA Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors, rumors started to swirl and some reputable league sources reported that LeBron is likely to play just one more year in Cleveland before bolting to the west coast, where he would consider playing for either the Los Angeles Lakers or the Clippers.
On Wednesday, The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski made the claim on his podcast, saying, “Not only is there no guarantee he’s coming back, I’m not sure there’s an expectation he’s re-signing there. I think they feel, I think within Cleveland and around the league, they feel that he’s very much in play to leave again and likely head out West to one of the two L.A. teams. The Lakers could very well be a target.”
Leaving Cleveland for the second time could arguably be easier for James and his legacy since he led the team to their first NBA title last season.
Additionally, Los Angeles would be a natural fit, given James’ off-court interests in Hollywood and show business.
It will come down to whether or not James feels comfortable in his chances at winning a championship. Since the Cavs will have no cap space next season, they run the risk of trotting out a nearly-identical roster next year if Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love or Tristan Thompson aren't moved this summer.
As seen in the Finals, they simply didn’t have the firepower to contend with the Warriors.
A lot would probably have to happen with either Los Angeles team in order for James’ interest to be legitimate, though.
The Clippers would have to re-sign both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin this offseason. If not, they run the risk of running into another rebuild, which wouldn’t be appealing to James.
The Lakers would have to add a major name in free agency and would also have to prove that their young core was improving and able to produce in time for LeBron’s possible addition.
Either team could be in a be more appealing spot than the Cavaliers next summer, and since the Warriors most likely aren’t going anywhere as the league’s true super team, James will have to make the decision that he feels is best for his lasting legacy.