LeBron's love affair with the Cleveland Cavaliers has taken both player and franchise to the highest heights but has also been through some real lows. His decision to leave for Miami after his first stint with the Cavs led to some fans burning his jerseys and he had to face a lot of vitriol every time he returned. Conversely, his return to Cleveland saw him spearhead the season that ended their long championship drought.
LeBron James ended up leaving again and now enjoys a bit of a mixed but mostly happy relationship with the fans of his hometown franchise. He added a new caveat to the situation at All-Star weekend this season, speaking about the fact that he hasn't ruled out a return to the Cavaliers before his career ends. This came after he was also quite complimentary about the Cavs organization and the way their current roster has been built. The Athletic's Jason Lloyd provided more context for LeBron's statements about the Cavaliers.
"So when he stepped off the podium following his media availability Saturday at Wolstein Center, I asked if I could walk with him, which is industry code for “Let’s talk.” James said yes. When security tried to stop me after a few steps, LeBron dismissed them and pulled me through. He wanted to talk. I asked if he was surprised at how quickly the Cavs have turned this around. He said no.
"He loved the talent on the roster. Then I asked if he has considered returning again. After all, this Cavs’ roster is much closer to winning than the roster was the last time he returned in 2014. He laughed and said he hadn’t thought about it, but the more we kept talking, the more he kept opening up. “The door’s not closed on that,” he said of an eventual Cleveland return."
A return to Cleveland might sound good for the Cavs considering how well Bron has been playing on a personal level this season but Lloyd went on to explain the obstacles standing in the way of making something like that happen for Cleveland.
"Now here’s where it gets complicated. The Cavs aren’t going to dismantle their roster to make room for a near-40-year-old on a max deal. Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen just appeared in their first All-Star games and Evan Mobley could be an All-Star as soon as next year. It would take some salary-cap gymnastics to figure out how to fit a max slot onto the payroll next summer. That’s why none of this might be feasible. He also made clear he wouldn’t come back for anything less than max money."
"If James is serious about returning, and the Cavs could do it without disrupting their top three pieces, they have to explore it. The Cavs are one of the best feel-good stories of the season. They should enjoy it as long as they can because the expectations will begin as soon as next year, and James on this roster would instantly elevate the Cavs from a team good enough to make the playoffs to a team good enough to win a championship."
The Cavaliers are building something great in Cleveland so they shouldn't look to disrupt their plans too much to get James on the short term. James, meanwhile, has a huge task on his hands as he looks to get the Lakers' season back on track and add another championship to help further his GOAT case.