NBA legend and current Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James will always be tied to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Having grown up in Ohio, been drafted by the Cavaliers, and delivering a title to the city in 2016, many feel as if LeBron’s story will start and end in Cleveland.
Having just signed an extension that will make him eligible for free agency in the summer of 2024, LeBron could opt out of his deal with the Lakers the same year his son Bronny James becomes draft eligible. The expectation amongst many around the league, is that LeBron will choose to do just that, and sign wherever his son is drafted.
With the Cleveland Cavaliers recently making a blockbuster deal to acquire Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell, several future draft choices were sacrificed to bring in the All-Star guard.
That said, one of the first-round picks that still remains in Cleveland’s possession, is their 2024 first-rounder. If the Mitchell trade elevates Cleveland into contention, that pick should land somewhere late in the first round, where scouts currently project Bronny James to land.
Does it all ride on Bronny?
While many around the league expect LeBron to finish his career alongside Bronny, the possibility of the Cavaliers drafting him is not the only factor linking LeBron back to Cleveland.
As previously mentioned, the Donovan Mitchell trade is one the Cavaliers hope will elevate them into contention. With improvements from their young stars, along with the addition of Mitchell, that expectation may be fulfilled in the coming years.
With All Stars or borderline All Stars at each position except small forward, all of which are young, there is a glaring vacancy in Cleveland’s starting lineup.
Should this young group continue to improve, they may be all hitting their prime around the same time LeBron James controls his own future again. Could he be the missing piece that elevates this group into title contention? It would be a storybook ending to his career, and while neither he nor the Cavaliers have given a definitive answer on the potential interest in a reunion, one recent report suggests that Cleveland would be open to it under the right terms.
What has to go right?
On a recent podcast episode, NBA insider Chris Fedor said, “I think they’d be open to it on their own terms, under the right terms. Terms that are very different from the ones he came back to in 2014.”
When discussing the usual sacrifices that come with acquiring LeBron James, including the power he has over organizational decisions, Fedor said, “The Cavaliers would not sign up for that kind of situation. They feel good about what they have here, especially with the addition of Donovan Mitchell. Back in 2014, they needed a savior and needed LeBron to come back and take them to a different level.”
Considering where LeBron will be at that point in his career, likely approaching his last season, there is little reason to believe he would make such demands.
If it means an opportunity to chase one more title for Cleveland, potentially alongside his son, it is hard to imagine a more perfect scenario for LeBron’s final season. A lot needs to go right between now and then, but it is hard to not see the pieces falling into place.