Could LeBron James Leave Cleveland Again?


I’m Coming Home.  Three simple, heartfelt words printed in a Sports Illustrated essay by LeBron James with Lee Jenkins marking his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers instantly released three NBA seasons worth of vigor and malice from local fans. In a matter of seconds he became the city’s “favorite son” once more. LeBron even found it in him to forgive owner Dan Gilbert for his venomous open letter after “the decision”. Images of burning number 23 jerseys in the city streets and bars full of crying fans were replaced with fan-made videos with that Skylar Grey song playing gracefully in the background. Cleveland was made whole once again.  

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National popularity and championship aspirations returned to a franchise locked in the depths of the Eastern Conference since James’ departure to the Miami Heat in 2010.

As details of the actual 2 year, $42.2 million contract emerged many couldn’t help but think about “the decision” part three that could await LeBron after the 2014-15 season. Is it possible King James could be leaving home again come summertime?

Marked inside the contract is a player option after the season. James could once again become the hottest free agent on the market this off-season. This option has every Cavs fan and front office member walking on eggshells. No one wants to say or do anything that could push James away from Cleveland for the second time.

It should be emphasized that this is all speculation. So relax Cavs nation. The reason James took the two-year deal with a player option was viewed strictly as a business move. He intends to remain in Cleveland for the long haul. James was also offered a four-year, $88-million contract. He took the two year deal in hopes of taking advantage of a new NBA deal with TV networks, which will increase the value of max contracts for players.

Still, there are some instances this season that have given Cavs fans a cause for pause.

The slow start (20-20) to the season coupled with the slow adaption to the new euro-style offense of head coach David Blatt started to raise eyebrows.

But, since then things have been looking promising on the court. James and company seem to be gelling better and better with each game, rising through the ranks of the Eastern Conference. With Derrick Rose out of the equation for the Chicago Bulls their biggest hurdle got a little bit easier to climb. A finals appearance and or winning a championship will surely keep James laced in the “whine and gold” beyond next year.

But wait!….

Another red flag came after the Christmas Day game against James’ former team the Miami Heat. James embraced former teammate and friend Dwayne Wade on the court. Through thorough review James can be heard saying something along the lines of “Like I said, if we aren’t better this year, we’re gonna re-unite again and do some bigger and better things, alright?” Are we in store for a “Heatles” reunion?

Of course LeBron later denied the comments had anything to do with basketball reassuring everyone that he won’t be leaving Cleveland again.

But then!….

If that did nothing to make you nervous there was “shovegate“. During a January game against the Phoenix Suns much was made from James shoving his head coach toward the bench when Blatt was arguing a call with a referee. Is there some type of rift going on between James and Blatt?

Once again the situation was diffused afterwards. According to the two parties it was simply the star player nobly saving his  coach from a technical foul, right?

These few instances shouldn’t be any threat to you Cavaliers fans. These are just some of the natural happenings of life in the NBA. Players and coaches argue, new teams struggle early on to find chemistry. Breathe easy Clevelanders, it’s okay.

Then again this is Cleveland. This is the city of “The Drive”, “The Fumble”, and Art Modell’s betrayal. Luck historically hasn’t been on its side in recent memory. If there were to ever be a city that would be struck by lightning twice in the same spot twice it would be Cleveland.

But don’t worry King James won’t be going anywhere. At least I hope not.

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