Speculation as to whether LeBron James will leave the Cleveland Cavaliers again once he is free to opt out this summer is circulating. Many assume that James will indeed opt out of his deal in an effort to get more money with the league’s salary cap skyrocketing next year, however, there are also sources who say that James would consider leaving if his team doesn’t make a deep playoff run.
James’ Cavaliers are the favorite to return to the NBA Finals in a potential rematch with the Golden State Warriors, who are on pace to break the 1995-996 Chicago Bulls’ record 72-10 mark. A deep playoff run, as previously noted, would seem to be at least to the Finals for a team led by James, but anything less could contradict that.
If he does elect to stay, according to ESPN.com’s Zach Lowe, James could look to the front office to reconstruct the roster around him once again.
Remaining in Cleveland for the foreseeable future seemed guaranteed when James announced his decision to return to his hometown after four years in Miami, where he won two titles alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. He made it evident that his main goal was to bring a championship back to Cleveland, which he repeated said goals during this past off-season.
Despite the Cavs holding the Eastern Conference’s best record at 52-22, there have been notable shakeups within the organization. Most recently, reports surfaced that teammates were upset with point guard Kyrie Irving’s lack of ball distribution. James raised eyebrows when he appeared to unfollow the Cavs on social media, and back in January, head coach David Blatt was fired and replaced by assistant coach Tyronn Lue.
The positive aspect of James following up on his player option is that he can sign with Cleveland long-term and earn much more money per season. However, it also gives him the opportunity to evaluate the market and hear what teams have to offer.
Although most of this talk won’t heat up until the postseason nears its end, it’s always hard to figure James out. Outside of basketball, he is a businessman, and he takes a business-like approach to things pertaining to his outside endeavors, ranging from endorsement deals with Nike to building up his brand with his new Blaze Pizza establishment. This is where money and offerings tie into everything.
James would undoubtedly receive much more backlash if he left Cleveland for a second time, but this time around gives the impression that he will remain a Cavalier once his contract is up. His desire to win for the city and end its 52-year sports title drought provides a glimpse into what one of his biggest reasons for remaining with the organization could be.
This is a debacle that could get more and more complicated as the weeks proceed, especially towards the latter end of the playoffs and into the summer months. Don’t be surprised if the narrative changes, primarily if Cleveland disappoints in the postseason and shies away from expectations.