With a Cleveland Cavaliers championship on his resume, a 3-0 deficit in the 2017 NBA Finals, and one year remaining on his contract, LeBron James is once again in the news as the subject of potentially swapping teams in the not-so-distant future. The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor references a year-old report by Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnorowski and adds a little of his own reporting in saying that James could have his eyes focused out West if the timing is right.
Multiple league sources I’ve spoken to think the Lakers or Clippers are viable destinations for King James. … Jalen Rose said this week on First Take that he expects LeBron to make a move from Cleveland to California, where he already owns a house 30 minutes away from Staples Center.
The fact is, when you look at their roster, you’re likely saying to yourself that every single player should be on the trade block except for LeBron and Kyrie. The Cavs have a fundamentally flawed roster, no differently than they did when he left the first time or when he departed Miami. By going into win-now mode, they did complete their mission of winning a title last season. That made it all worth it. But those moves could also end up being the reason LeBron develops wandering eyes over the next year.
O’Connor lays out multiple scenarios where James could either equip himself with a younger roster, Paul George, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball with the Lakers, or team up with his banana boat-riding friends with the Clippers, a team reported to be offering point guard Chris Paul a new contract in the near future. The only thing the Lakers, owners of the No. 2 pick in the draft, would have to do to clear space for James would be to move Luol Deng and former Cavalier Timofey Mozgov. For the Clipper-based scenario to unfold, it would take Dwyane Wade opting in with the Bulls and becoming a free agent after the 2017-18 season, and Carmelo Anthony being dealt in some facet for Blake Griffin. LeBron himself would have to take a huge discount, something he hasn’t exactly been willing to do over the last few seasons.
On August 8, 2014, during his homecoming rally in Akron, James told the media “”I don’t plan on going anywhere—I don’t have the energy to do it again.” When asked about his future during Wednesday’s media availability, however, James said that he hasn’t thought about it much, offering “I definitely want to compete—compete for championships every year. We’ll see what happens.” It’s tough to envision a scenario where moving West and playing the Golden State Warriors seven times per season would be a better way to compete for championships. As O’Connor concluded:
LeBron leaving the East is nothing more than a fantasy. Until the Lakers start making progress or the Clippers find clarity, teams would be wise to operate under the assumption that LeBron will permanently serve as the Eastern Conference gatekeeper.
I also know that the last time Clevelanders spent an entire 18 months focusing on what could happen regarding LeBron James’ contract at some point in the future, I took for granted the excellence that was unfolding in front of me in present time. I refuse to let that happen again.