When LeBron James returned to the Cavaliers in 2014, he did so with the goal of bringing a championship to Cleveland. Well, he did that in 2016.
But he never promised to remain in Cleveland for the rest of his career. In fact, there are rumblings that James may one day take his talents to Los Angeles.
Is that possible?
Answer: With LeBron, anything is possible.
“The one thing I’ll tell you from my dealings with LeBron and covering him for the last five, six years that I’ve gotten to know him – he thinks he’s playing chess and everyone is playing checkers,” ESPN senior writer Ramona Shelburne said on CBS Sports Radio’s Reiter Than You. “That guy is thinking three, four, five years down the line at all times, and he’s got a team around him that also thinks that way. So this idea of him coming to Los Angeles towards the end of his career, that’s one option. I’ve been preparing for it.
“But I’ll say this,” Shelburne continued. “I think one of the things LeBron has been excellent at the last four or five years is going himself maximum leverage,” Shelburne said. “So this L.A. option, is that real? Maybe. Maybe he’s just playing this all the way out so after next year, when he has a player-option, he can look around and say, ‘Okay, where do I go next?’ Maybe it’s Cleveland. Maybe he does stay. But maybe this is just another round of LeBron needing leverage because if he does stay in Cleveland, that’s the one where he gets set up with the super max contract.”
And Dan Gilbert just needs to pay it. Will James be worth $40+ million a year when he’s 38 years old? Probably not. Does that matter? Nope.
“If Dan Gilbert even balks at giving him the five-year, $200-million contract that he’s eligible for, maybe this is his leverage,” Shelburne said of James. “‘I could go to Los Angeles. I have this all set up.’ All I know about LeBron is that he’s already thought of whatever we’re talking about two years ago. Him having options is always the way he’s going to play it, and I think that’s the way you should read this L.A. discussion at this point.”