By: Tyler Noebe, GZ Sports Report Contributor
LeBron James has been a proud son to Northeast Ohio ever since the early 2000’s with his glory days at St. Vincent St. Mary’s high school. During his four year stay in Miami, Ohioans learned to hate the player they loved so dearly. When LeBron came back in the summer of 2014 he promised the city a championship. Now that he fulfilled that promise in 2016, does he owe anything more to Cleveland? Could he possibly leave Cleveland a second time? Lately there have been rumors leaking in the NBA regarding LeBron possibly setting his anchor in L.A. come the 2018/2019 regular season. Since the rumors started that Lebron was on his way to Los Angeles, a source close to Lebron has said that he will never be a Clipper. Suspiciously, it was never denied that he could end up a Laker. This may seem ridiculous to Cavalier fans, but here are a few reasons given recent events why it makes sense that LeBron could be heading to Southern California.
GM David Griffin split ways with the Cavs this past week while reportedly in the middle of trade and free agency negotiations. LeBron has always been a big fan of Griffin and was shocked by the news that he was on his way out. According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, there was a divide between team owner Dan Gilbert and Griffin about the future of the team. The details of what exactly this divide was have not been released. Many speculations and theories have arisen from this oddly timed separation. A theory that makes the most sense is that Cavs owner Dan Gilbert is trying to accumulate one more year’s worth of talent knowing that LeBron will be leaving in 2018. The mindset of Gilbert is to prioritizing getting another ring now over the longevity of the Cleveland Cavalier’s succes. This argument stays consistent with the excessive minutes LeBron played this regular season and postseason. The lack of rest the Cavs gave to LeBron’s legs show that they are not interested in the length of his prime playing days compared to his ability to effect a game at the moment on the court. David Griffin, on the other hand, may have had the longevity of the Cavs in mind. He may have been proposing trades with intentions of keeping LeBron around long term, or may have wanted to rebuild altogether using the valuable assets on the roster now as trade bait.
LeBron already owns a house in Los Angeles, which made national news when someone spray painted racial slurs and defaced the property leading into Game 1 of the Finals this year. It is known LeBron owns a lot of properties in a lot of nice areas but the coincidence of owning property in the area that he is rumored to playing in should be noted. Another key aspect to his living conditions is that it has been reported that LeBron and his wife love living in Los Angeles. It has also been reported that she wants to live there “full time”. The saying, “happy wife, happy life” comes to mind here. In the middle of a cold winter in Northeast Ohio, most Ohioans can agree that they would rather be in sunny Los Angeles than gloomy Ohio. LeBron is no different.
LeBron has admitted to wanting to team up with Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwyane Wade at some point in his career. This would most likely have to happen at the last legs of their careers. CBS has reported that Wade and Anthony are on the Cavs radar and they could possibly buy one or both of the stars out. If that does not happen this offseason Los Angeles would become the next most likely destination for their reunion tour, if it were to happen at all. The drafting of Lonzo Ball could also be a lure to reel in LeBron. His pass-first mentality has similarities to the game LeBron has developed throughout his career. A major influence on both Ball and LeBron’s game is Magic Johnson, who coincidentally and conveniently is now the General Manager for the Lakers.
Lastly, LeBron has been involved with businesses, media, and other activities outside the NBA more than any superstar we have seen in this generation. The man has even been studied by Harvard business schools. From a purely economic perspective, greater opportunities lie Los Angeles rather than Northeast Ohio. As Lebron is coming out of the prime years of his basketball career, his post basketball business career my slowly start taking priority in LeBron’s mind. To best set himself up, Los Angeles is the route to go. Additionally, LeBron can make more of his Hollywood movie career when living permanently in the Hollywood/Los Angeles area.
There is no clear answer when thinking about the King’s future at this point in time. If he keeps signing 1 year deals there will always be speculation about his future in Cleveland. James fulfilled his promise of bringing a ring to Cleveland so, therefore, there isn’t an expectation that he has to continue to resign with the Cavs or finish his career in Cleveland. The fact is no one really knows what is going to happen besides LeBron, if even he himself knows where he wants to be a year from now. For all we know LeBron could retire after next year, going out on top, saving himself from the fate of a lackluster last few seasons much like Kobe Bryant.