With LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers set to take on the Toronto Raptors in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals tonight, rumors are heating up regarding the possibility that James, once again, leaves Cleveland for the Miami Heat. In addition to the Heat, the Los Angeles Lakers were named as the other potential suitor. While it appeared as though James was set to finish his career with the Cavaliers, there is a very real possibility that he has other plans.
As reported by NBC Sports, Stephen A. Smith of ESPN spoke earlier today regarding James’ future with the Cavaliers.
“I’ll drop one other tidbit of information, because people have been ignoring what I’ve been saying. I’ve hinted around it for months as you well know. But I’m going to say this again. LeBron James promised the city of Cleveland, ‘I’m coming back to bring you that elusive title that has escaped this city since 1964.’ He never said anything about staying once he does accomplish that. I’m in Miami last week. I’m in Miami a few months ago. Skip Bayless, I’m hearing about a return to Miami if this man wins. He ain’t going nowhere if he loses. But, if he wins, his options are open. LA, but especially Miami, a return to South Beach.”
The most interesting part about Smith’s report is the fact that James is more likely to leave the Cavaliers if they win the championship this season as opposed to losing. While the Eastern Conference finals is now two games to one in favor of Cleveland, the Cavaliers are most likely going to advance to the NBA Finals and face either the Oklahoma City Thunder or the Golden State Warriors. The Cavaliers are one of the NBA’s top teams, but they are going to be the underdog against the Thunder or Warriors.
Rumor: LeBron James could return to Heat if Cavaliers win championship https://t.co/JyXLgN4se3— Kurt Helin (@basketballtalk) May 23, 2016
In the event that the Cavaliers win the championship this year, it is going to be interesting to see what James decides to do. With Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, James currently has a solid team in Cleveland. Since Irving is only 24-years-old and Love is only 27-years-old, it is not out of the question that James could win multiple championships with the current roster.
Regardless of James’ loyalty to the city of Cleveland, he already left them once. While it seemed out of the question that James would do it for the second time, Miami has to be intriguing for him. In addition to having excellent chemistry on the court with Dwyane Wade, the two are also close friends, as ESPN reports. Even without James, the Heat finished with a solid record of 48-34 and almost made it to the Eastern Conference finals.
While Chris Bosh has been dealing with serious health concerns recently, he is also expected to return to the Heat for the 2016-2017 season. Goran Dragic will be back for another year in the Heat’s system, and the situation in Miami may be better than it was when James left a few years ago.
In addition to James’ being comfortable in Miami, he can also make more money because the state of Florida does not charge its residents a state income tax. As James knows from his time with the Heat, he will save millions of dollars because of this.
Since James practically promised Northeast Ohio that he wants to give them a championship, it is likely that he returns to Cleveland if they do not win the championship this year, according to Smith. That really puts Cavaliers’ fans in an interesting situation. If their team wins the championship this season, James could leave for the Miami Heat or Los Angeles Lakers. If they do not win the championship, James will likely return, but they will still not have a championship.
With LeBron James set to become a free agent this summer, rumors will continue to speculate regarding his next destination. While a return to Cleveland is possible, many NBA insiders believe that he could join the Heat or Lakers.