LeBron James Rumors: Cavaliers May Not 'Jump' at Chance to Bring Lakers Star Back

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVFebruary 23, 2022

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James gestures during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022, in Los Angeles. The Lakers won 106-101. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James raised some eyebrows during NBA All-Star Weekend when he suggested a return to Cleveland could be in the cards, but the Cavaliers reportedly may not be clamoring for that to happen.

NBA journalist Marc Stein said Tuesday that while most assume the Cavs would "jump" at the chance to bring LeBron back into the fold, he "really [doesn't] think that's the case."

James, who has had two separate stints with the Cavaliers during his career, told Jason Lloyd of The Athletic that the "door's not closed" on him returning eventually.

The 37-year-old veteran added: "I'm not saying I'm coming back and playing, I don't know. I don't know what my future holds. I don't even know when I'm free."

LeBron is among the biggest sports heroes in the history of Cleveland, although it wasn't always that way. James initially left the franchise for the Miami Heat in free agency in 2010 after a seven-year run in Cleveland.

Cavs fans looked on as James took the Heat to four straight NBA Finals and won two championships, but his story wasn't fully written in Cleveland.

James returned in free agency in 2014 and spent four more seasons with the Cavs. He took them to four consecutive NBA Finals, and in 2016, he led the way as Cleveland won its first and only NBA championship.

Because of the title, the reaction wasn't nearly as sharp when LeBron left again in 2018 to sign with the Lakers.

James is now in the midst of his fourth season in L.A., and it has been a struggle. Running mate Anthony Davis is out for at least the next few weeks with an ankle injury, and the Lakers are just ninth in the Western Conference with a 27-31 record.

The Lakers are just two years removed from James and Davis leading them to a championship, but they dropped off significantly last season when both LeBron and AD missed time due to injury, and they haven't recovered this season.

Since there is no immediate path toward the Lakers upgrading their roster in a big way, it has led to speculation regarding whether James might leave Los Angeles when he becomes a free agent in 2023.

If James does leave, Cleveland could be an attractive landing spot since it is his home, and the Cavs are a team on the rise.

With Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen and rookie sensation Evan Mobley leading the way, the Cavaliers have been one of the NBA's most pleasant surprises this season, as they are 35-23 and tied for third in the Eastern Conference.

While it can be argued that bringing in a huge star like James would disrupt the balance the Cavaliers are cultivating, it is hard to envision the Cavs turning down the opportunity to sign a four-time NBA champion, NBA MVP and NBA Finals MVP if it came about.

Whether that happens will likely depend heavily on how the Lakers fare the rest of this season and next.