LeBron James may have left the Cavaliers for the second time, and just like after his first exodus, he’s not ruling out a possible return to the team before the end of his career. In an article from Tom Withers of the Associated Press, LeBron said he doesn’t “close the book on anything.”
“Listen, I don’t close the chapter on anything or close the book on anything,” James said when asked if he would return to Cleveland to end his career. “But hopefully I can sit there one day and watch my jersey go up into the rafters, that’s for sure.”
That’s a fairly safe and tepid response from James, and with a three-year firm commitment to the Lakers (with a player option on a fourth year), Cavaliers fans shouldn’t be expecting a late-career return from the King.
With that said, nobody would’ve expected LeBron to the first time; it was an exit marked with significantly more vitriol than this one, and James may well decide that ending his career in his hometown has some natural appeal.
Ultimately, David Zavac, the former fearless leader of this blog, has an important point:
At some point the Cavs will have to find a way to be relevant in a positive manner without LeBron James. https://t.co/deoLqVkGsb— David Zavac (@DavidZavac) July 30, 2018
It’s not easy to live outside of the LeBron sphere of influence when you were already a part of it. Even the well-run Heat have struggled to figure out a post-King identity, finding themselves capped out long-term with a roster that has little chance of ever competing in the East.
The Cavaliers are more inextricably linked to James, though - he’s spent 11 of his 15 seasons with the Cavaliers, and while he’s in the league, his success and the Cavaliers success will be related to one another.
In the meantime, the Cavaliers have an opportunity to build a team that can finally succeed without James’ help. Whether this front office and ownership are up to the task is another question entirely.
Also worth noting: James would be 36-years-old, and heading towards his 37th birthday, if he were to return to Cleveland in three years. Add another year to both totals if he returned after four years with the Lakers.