Remember back in 2010, when Lebron James went on national television and announced to the world that he was leaving the confides of Cleveland (he was born in Akron, Ohio) to head to warmer temperatures in Miami to go chase rings with his running mates Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh?
Who could forget such a monumental moment? Since that day, the Miami Heat have had two NBA finals appearances (including one championship), while the Cavaliers have dabbled in mediocrity as they attempt to rebuild a once great team around young stars Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters.
Surprisingly, it could all be “water under the bridge” once 2014 rolls through.
According to a report by Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal, the Cavs are now positioning themselves to make a serious run at James once he becomes a free-agent in two years.
Executives and agents around the league are convinced the Cavaliers won’t do anything to jeopardize their ability to sign a free agent to a max contract during the summer of 2014, when LeBron James can again become a free agent. As fans in Northeast Ohio continue to howl and remain divided about the possibility of his return, more and more people around the league believe there is a strong possibility James will indeed return to Cleveland after next season.
The Cavs are well aware of this, too, and won’t take on a bad contract if it compromises their cap space in two years. That means any bad contract they would obtain in a potential trade would have to expire after next season. It doesn’t make a deal impossible, but it dramatically reduces the field — and it decreases the price the Cavs can command since their future obligations would be brief.
Lloyd also believes that James relationship with Kyrie Irving could be a big selling point for the team.
The Cavs would essentially have Kyrie Irving as the running mate next to LeBron. The two are reportedly very close and with Irving’s ascension into the NBA stratosphere of stardom, it would be an attractive talent to team up with. And perhaps if Tristan Thompson continues to show what he’s shown this month and if Tyler Zeller or Dion Waiters are able to grow into being a good player, there would be enough good talent and roster flexibility to woo LeBron away from Miami.
Now the chances of this actually happening are slim to none, but what a story it would be if the former “King of Cleveland” were to make a triumphant return to the franchise he helped resurrect.
However, when you look at the logistics of the situation, there really isn’t a lot of incentive for James to go back from a basketball standpoint.
The Miami Heat have a core group of guys in place that can realistically contend for an NBA championship year in and year out for the next 6-8 years. Why on earth would LeBron willingly leave that just to return to a franchise that so vehemently spurned him on the way out of town? I suppose a good portion of the ill will was warranted, but there is no doubt in my mind that a bad aftertaste still resonates with both parties.
When asked about a possible return to Cleveland back in February, LeBron certainly didn’t rule it out by any means.
“I don’t know. I think it would be great,” the Akron, Ohio, product said during a road trip to Cleveland. “It would be fun to play in front of these fans again. I had a lot fun times in my seven years here. You can’t predict the future and hopefully I continue to stay healthy. I’m here as a Miami Heat player, and I’m happy where I am now, but I don’t rule that out in no sense.
“And if I decide to come back, hopefully the fans will accept me.”
If the Heat were to win one or two more championships before James hits free-agency (he can opt out of his current contract after four seasons), I suppose there is a chance he could walk and explore opportunities elsewhere, especially if Miami is unable to financially keep the “Big Three” of James/Wade/Bosh intact long-term.
Is Cleveland the most likely of destinations if LeBron leaves South Beach? Who’s to say.
Although, even with the historically bad break-up, I don’t believe there will have been a greater redemption story in sports if James were to actually return to Cleveland in 2014 and take the lowly Cavaliers to the promise land.
Just don’t count on it, that’s all.