Much like in 2010 and in 2014, the biggest off-court topic in the NBA this season will be the impending free agency status of LeBron James. LeBron James has the ability to opt of out his contract at the end of this season and become a free agent. This will, once again, allow him to leave the city of Cleveland behind should he so choose.
Will LeBron James stay with the Cavaliers after this season? At the conclusion of the 2017-2018 season, will LeBron feel like he owes his hometown Cleveland anything?
LeBron answered that second question in the latest issue of GQ, and he answered with an emphatic no.
“LeBron James owes nobody anything. Nobody,” he said. “When my mother told me I don’t owe her anything, from that point in time, I don’t owe anybody anything. But what I will give to the city of Cleveland is passion, commitment, and inspiration. As long as I put that jersey on, that’s what I represent. That’s why I’m there — to inspire that city. But I don’t owe anybody anything.”
While that quote doesn’t directly indicate whether or not LeBron plans to stay in Cleveland for the rest of his career — that will likely depend largely on how this season goes — it is telling to hear that James feels that he’s done what he set out to do: bring Cleveland a championship.
That may not what be what Cavs fans want to hear right now, but it’s also spot on. LeBron has given this franchise every ounce of strength and energy that he possibly can, he brought them the first title the team has had in 50 years, and nobody in their right mind can question his passion, his leadership skills, or how hard he plays.
As it stands, the Cleveland Cavaliers have a re-loaded roster with experienced veterans that could put them in better position to dethrone the defending NBA champion, Golden State Warriors, should the two powerhouses meet for the fourth consecutive year in the NBA Finals. However, there’s a storm cloud hanging over the franchise and the city this season, one that will only get bigger and bigger as the season progresses.
Right now, LeBron doesn’t have a sure answer to questions about his future. He has ideas, but he wisely leaves all his options open, in all likelihood, so he can make what he feels is the best call next summer when the time comes. While he’s yet to publicly indicate anything one way or another, James has been rumored to have interest in Los Angeles or even Houston as potential destinations.
LeBron has the leverage, and he has routinely been a guy who keeps his options open. He will be asked about his future in every road stop, and, as expected, he will likely dodge the questions, while everyone around him will be trying between the lines. But, as of right now, LeBron doesn’t know for sure what he will do next summer.
Neither does anybody else.
[Featured Image by Nick Wass/AP Images]