Lebron James might leave. Again.
Ever since the conclusion of the NBA Finals, rumors have circulated that once James hits the free agency market in 2018, he will look west.
James, the undisputed king of modern basketball, already broke the hearts of Clevelanders before. In 2010, James announced on national television that he would be leaving his hometown and the team that drafted him, the Cavaliers, to join Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat. Riots hit the streets, jerseys burned and posters were ripped down. James went from hometown hero to a villainous sellout.
But why would James leave the Cavs again? He saved his legacy and restored sanity to the city with the burning river. He ended Cleveland’s ridiculously long professional sports drought.
The answer can be found in the very state that James is rumored to be eyeing.
Golden State, the home of the biggest basketball super-team ever, is starting to set a new trend. The Warriors, fresh off a second NBA title in two years, are reaping the reward of having the deepest depth chart in the league.
In the 2016 offseason, the Warriors lured Kevin Durant away from Oklahoma. Durant, hungry for a championship before his time as a player ran out, fled the Thunder and basically guaranteed the Warriors a spot in the playoffs.
The Warriors’ depth proved too much for James, and Golden State cruised to a 4-1 victory. As one commentator put it during the Finals, it’s pretty good when head coach Steve Kerr can substitute Draymond Green for Durant.
James must have seen this power and realized if he wanted a chance at another championship before time finally caught up with him, he needed a change. His co-stars would need to be high-level athletes in their prime. He would have to join a squad whose backups are more talented than Kyle Korver or James Jones.
So where will the king end up ruling? Multiple reports say James will choose either the Los Angeles Laker or Clippers as his next destination.
The Clippers seem to be the more obvious choice, as they are close to building a super team already. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have tons of talent and are still relatively young. Deandre Jordon also stands out as an impact player.
As for the Lakers, their current roster brings to mind a number of phrases, none of which are “super team.” However, Paul George of the Indiana Pacers is expected to land there, and the team has its eyes on UCLA’s Lonzo Ball in the upcoming draft. James’s wife has also suggested that living in L.A. full time would be ideal.
Whether it be with the Lakers or Clippers, it appears that King James may be departing his beloved homeland again. While James said after the Finals he believes he has never played for a super team, it does seem suspicious that he would want to leave a team he helped build from the ground up just to skip town for something bigger and better.
Brandon Hill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @brandonmtnhill