Rumors that state LeBron James may leave the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2018 are not just noise.
They’re for real.
The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor first introduced the chatter after the Cavaliers were bounced by the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. And now, The Vertical’s almighty Adrian Wojnarowski has spoken (via Silver Screen & Roll):
“Not only is there no guarantee he’s coming back, I’m not sure there is an expectation he’s re-signing there. I think within Cleveland and around the league they feel that he is very much in play to leave again and likely head out West to one of the two LA teams. The Lakers could very well be a target.”
As Wojnarowski would go on to point out, LeBron has opened a path to the Los Angeles Lakers or another NBA team by winning a title in Cleveland. There will be backlash if he leaves, but it’ll be harder for the franchise to denigrate him when he anchored their only championship team, thereby accomplishing what he set out to do in the first place.
Still, joining the Lakers or even the Los Angeles Clippers feels like a stretch. The Lakers’ core won’t be ready to rival the Warriors in one year’s time, and syncing up with the Clippers implies he’d be joining Chris Paul along with perhaps Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade. That core, while intriguing, isn’t beating the Warriors. Anthony and Wade are already ebbing into their twilight, and James and Paul aren’t getting any younger.
If LeBron is still bent on contending for championships, leaving Cleveland only makes sense if he’s able to upgrade his situation. And that’ll essentially limit him to the San Antonio Spurs.
Would he consider joining Kawhi Leonard? Especially if Chris Paul signs? Will he simply leave Cleveland to be more conveniently located in Los Angeles? Will he even leave the Cavaliers again at all?
We’re one year out from LeBron’s next free-agency decision. Get ready for more of this conjecture. Because it’s not going anywhere.