Kevin Love Says LeBron James Returning to Cavaliers Would Be 'Storybook Ending'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVApril 5, 2022

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 29: LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers and Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shake hands after the game on October 29, 2021 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)
Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Cleveland Cavaliers star Kevin Love can't ignore the symbolic significance of LeBron James potentially ending his NBA career where it began.

"I mean, that's like a storybook ending for him," Love said to FanSided's Mark Carman. "I don't want to project what he may or may not want to do, but where our team is trending and how we're set up to win for a very long time and how much you know, Cleveland and Akron and all of Ohio loves him. It'd be great to get Bronny over here too and then we'll call it a day."

James, who still has one more year left on his contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, told The Athletic's Jason Lloyd in February that "the door's not closed" on a third stint in Cleveland. 

At the time, the Cavaliers were one of the NBA's biggest surprises but have since fallen back to earth a bit. Still, a 43-36 record and earning a berth in the play-in tournament are evidence of how the franchise is turning a corner.

As a result, signing with Cleveland wouldn't just be a sentimental play by James. He could help the young Cavs take another step forward and potentially even be a title contender again in the Eastern Conference.

But employing LeBron inevitably carries wider implications, and this season is strong evidence of why it may no longer be the worthwhile bargain it once was.

The Lakers don't win a championship in 2020 without signing James. Empowering him to the degree they have is also why the franchise is in its current predicament.

At 37, the strengths of LeBron the player are no longer able to balance out the weaknesses of LeBron the general manager.

Having the 18-time All-Star has often been a cheat code that allows a team to compensate for whatever weaknesses it has. That's not the case anymore given his recent injury reported. James has appeared in 223 out of a possible 303 games with the Lakers. 

As odd as it might sound, the Cavaliers would have to think long and hard about whether signing LeBron would be worth possibly disrupting what the organization is building now. This isn't like 2014, when James rejoined a team that had a bright talent in Kyrie Irving but was otherwise devoid of a long-term plan.

From an emotional standpoint, James and the Cavs already had their redemptive arc with the 2016 championship, too. It's difficult to see how anything they could do together now would top that moment.