The buzz started late in Game 2 of the NBA Finals when LeBron James’ handpicked Cavaliers team was suffering another shellacking courtesy of the Golden State Warriors. After multiple attempts to win NBA titles in Cleveland, LeBron only had one to show for his trouble, and fans were beginning to feel his frustration with his team’s apparently lack of a will to win.
So far, James has been in seven NBA Finals, winning three. Two with Miami and one with Cleveland. After last season’s stunning come from behind series, there was talk of a dynasty building in Cleveland. But, after two downright embarrassing team performances in the 2017 Finals, the talk started again. Then, after Golden State blanked Cleveland in the final three minutes of game three, going on an 11-0 run to take the game, the talk really started in earnest.
Pundits, including retired NBA standout Charles Barkley, were openly mocking James’ Cleveland teammates. They just weren’t giving the effort as their captain, was the narrative. They were letting LeBron down … again. The trade buzz grew louder and, finally, someone put it in print.
Kevin O’Connor, sports writer at The Ringer, said James “may consider” signing with the Los Angeles Lakers or Clippers during free agency next season. Lakes fans would love that. One of the NBA’s biggest and most storied markets hasn’t had a solid championship team in a long, long time. LeBron is still young enough to build around, and LA has the cash and the fan base James would need to see that happen soon.
Then again, the Clippers are a team on the verge. They have superstar talent that tends to bring out the best in LeBron … but both of these teams are in the West, which would mean bumping up against his best competition before his team ever reached the Finals. That might work out well for James. After all, it worked for Jordan’s Bulls. After years of being beaten by the Bad Boys of Detroit, the Bulls took over and ruled the East for years.
Of course, this is all speculation, and many fans – especially in Cleveland – are quick to point that out. Just because James has a house in LA doesn’t mean he wants to move there. He grew up in Ohio, and he will never be loved in another market as he is in Cleveland. That said, James promised a championship to Cleveland … and he’s delivered. So, is it time, once again, for King James to move on?