Is LeBron Leaving Cleveland For Los Angeles?
The rumor of LeBron James going to the Los Angeles Lakers after this season has been running wild this summer. Cleveland's offseason woes have reportedly affected James and with some uncertainty there, he might be taking his talents elsewhere again.
James left Cleveland for South Beach in 2011 to chase an NBA title with the Miami Heat. After winning two with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, James returned to Cleveland to fulfill a promise. He made good on that, helping the Cavs break the curse of Cleveland and delivering the NBA title he promised.
But after the Cavs were easily dismantled by the powerhouse Golden State Warriors in the recent 2017 NBA Finals, things have gone south for Cleveland. GM David Griffin was ousted, Kyrie Irving asked to be traded and the Cavs didn't get a top notch free agent during the summer.
Coming To L.A.
Reportedly frustrated, LeBron James is said to be contemplating on leaving the Cavs yet again. James has an opt out clause in his current contract.That clause in his contract is at the center of the storm. If James desires to decline his $35.6M player option for the 2018-19 season, James can become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Because of that, there have been several speculations about James' future. One of those is the King going to Hollywood after this season. Those talks have gained ground during the summer. With the regular season almost here, that rumor refuses to die away.
Veteran NBA writer Peter Vecsey is the latest to talk about LeBron's alleged plan:
“Accordingly, I’m publicly terminating the pandemic of speculation surrounding LeBron James’ playing plans past this season. For months, many in the media declared or composed presumption the Lakers would be the beneficiaries of his talents when he became a free agent July 1, 2018. I’m eradicating all conjecture and uncertainty! I’m comfortable now in stating unequivocally, LeBron will leave the Cavaliers a second time and join the Lakers, and return the team to LA Lore status.”
Uncertainty In The Land
The ouster of GM David Griffin reportedly ignited uncertainty in Cleveland. LeBron had a great relationship with Griffin and he appreciated the moves Griffin made to help the Cavs win the 2016 NBA title. According to reports, team owner Dan Gilbert didn't consult LeBron about replacing Griffin, thus disappointing the superstar forward. We know about LeBron's past with Gilbert and according to sources, this was the final straw.
The departure of Kyrie Irving has certainly added to the uncertainty in the 'Land. The Cavs got Isaiah Thomas in return but Thomas can be a free agent after this season. Aside from Thomas, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert and the recently acquired Derrick Rose could choose to test the market too.
LaVar Says So
In August, LaVar Ball made a bold prediction that LeBron James will be joining Lonzo Ball in a Lakers' uniform next season. LaVar went on to proclaim that the two would be a good fit in Los Angeles and that they would definitely bring the championship years back to L.A.
Lonzo's outspoken dad has a flair for exaggeration. But while his basketball claims are often off and outrageous, his business talks make sense. Like Lonzo going to the Lakers and Big Baller brand shoes for Lonzo. Now, he says Superstar players belong to superstar franchises. What's Cleveland compared to also Angeles in terms of market?
Bron Tweets Home
Last month, conspiracy theorists believed that James had a slip of the tongue ( or tweet ) when he referred to Los Angeles as home. The statement was made via tweet to fellow NBA player Jamal Crawford who invited James to his basketball camp in Seattle:
May have to make a day trip up there when I'm back home in LA bro!— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 9, 2017
LeBron James has a home in Los Angeles and he spends a decent amount of the year in Tinseltown, especially during the offseason. But while tweeting 'home' may mean nothing more than a reference to his house, you can't discount the fact the he has ties to L.A. And that could be a big consideration if he leaves Cleveland again.
The link to L.A. got another episode when LeBron and wife Savannah made a surprise visit to the exclusive private school Notre Dame High School in Los Angeles last week. According to reports, LeBron proceeded to a training session with the Notre Dame High School basketball team while his wife toured the campus.
Now one might think that it was just one of King James' public appearances but it was an unplanned visit, meaning the trip to Notre Dame High School wasn't in his professional itinerary. It's a fact that the couple have three children including the soon to be 13 year old LeBron Jr. so the King's appearance at Notre Dame High a School may be more than just a coincidence, or so the Lakers' faithful hope so.
A Hollywood Movie
The story of LeBron James coming to Los Angeles fits a Hollywood movie. Yet it may be nothing more than that- a wonderful movie story too good to be true. But if you look at the Lakers, they are in a position to do so. They have cleared out enough salary to sign a maximum salary free agent next summer and can still unload more cap space for a second one.
The Lakers were open about their desire to land Paul George, in fact they already paid a fine for that. George was traded to OKC this summer but beyond this season, no one knows exactly what he will do. Sure he said that he's picking winning over homecoming but then you can't deny that there's no place like home.
Bonafide Star Needed
Los Angeles has unloaded their veterans and Magic Johnson has built a young core led by Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball. The team is fresh off their first ever NBA Summer League title. But in order to build on that minor success, they need a bonafide star to lead their talented young team. Paul George. would be an excellent choice. But King James would be the ideal pick. Landing both isn't a far fetched possibility.
The Lakers are probably in the worst stretch of the franchise's NBA existence. They've missed the playoffs four seasons in a row, the longest period they've been out of the post season. The last four seasons are four of the worst five seasons in franchise history and prior to their 26 win 2016-17 season, the Lakers had their worst season in back to back years.
Lead The Way
The last link to championship success was Kobe Bryant. Bryant retired a couple of seasons ago. Los Angeles isn't just in need of a star, it needs a new face. Magic says that new face is Lonzo Ball. And while the kid is legit superstar material, he has not played a single NBA game yet.
Kobe needed Shaq to get going just as Magic had Kareem to pave the way for success. In the same manner, Lonzo or Ingram ( or both ) need someone like Paul George or LeBron ( or even both ) to lead the way. We still have a full season to play but the Lakers nation can't wait for next summer.
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