LeBron James may have been welcomed back to the Cleveland Cavaliers with open arms two years ago when he returned to them from the Miami Heat in free agency, but Cavaliers fans shouldn’t get too comfortable with him around. As ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said on ESPN Radio today, some of James’ friends are implying that the two-time champion and four-time MVP could depart the Cavaliers in free agency again this summer.
“One of the things LeBron’s inner circle religiously says is that, ‘Yeah, he’s back, but don’t you think for one second that he’s going to sit idly by and watch the franchise take him for granted and put too much excess weight on his shoulders the way that they used to when he was in Cleveland the first go-round. Think that he’s permanently going to stay in Cleveland if you want to. Do not try him,’” Smith said.
Smith then reiterated how James is indeed committed to bringing an NBA championship to Cleveland, with whom he spent the first seven years of his career before leaving for Miami in free agency and thus becoming Public Enemy No. 1 amongst fans, but also said that James staying in Cleveland long-term this time around was not guaranteed.
Nobody wants to admit it, but Smith is 100 percent right. Yes, the Cavaliers’ talented young core of Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson gave James’ further incentive to return to Cleveland back in 2014, and adding players like Kevin Love and J.R. Smith via trades put the Cavaliers in a position to be great. Sure enough, James helped lead the Cavaliers to the the NBA Finals in spite of injuries to Love and Irving, but Cleveland lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games.
And Cleveland is an NBA Finals contender this year despite firing coach David Blatt earlier this season, currently sitting at 44-18 and the top team in the Eastern Conference, but James’ looking to play elsewhere in free agency this summer wouldn’t be a surprise if the Cavs fall short again. Despite Cleveland’s overall potential, LeBron James wants to win above all else and doesn’t want to be the only one on the team playing consistently, as Love has been inconsistent all season and Irving didn’t debut until December after fracturing his kneecap in the NBA Finals last year.
Thus, if Cleveland falls short again this postseason and James sees an opportunity in free agency that gives him a greater shot to win with more consistent help surrounding him on the court, nobody should be surprised if he takes advantage of that chance and breaks Cleveland fans’ hearts again.
Nobody may like it, but LeBron James has to do what he feels is best for himself.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports