As recently as a few months ago, a LeBron James return to Cleveland, less than an hour’s drive from his place of birth, seemed like a pipe dream.
His Miami Heat were competing for yet another NBA championship while Cleveland were out of playoff contention; despite having a second number one pick in three years; despite being in a conference glaringly void of depth; despite nabbing talented veterans Luol Deng and Andrew Bynum to drive them into the postseason.
One failed Finals campaign later, followed by James opting out of his contract with Miami, and things look vastly different.
The Cavs are suddenly a viable alternative to Miami for LeBron. They can easily create cap space to sign LeBron James to a max contract and their young talent also makes them enticing.
ESPN’s Chris Broussard announced that the Cavs are now his favourite to land LeBron James
Cleveland can offer LeBron an intriguing roster full of talent. Kyrie Irving is a standout, offensively gifted point guard in a league stocked with elite point guards. No 1 pick Andrew Wiggins will almost certainly blossom into a superstar.
Just as important for LeBron as the players on the team is the system the coach will employ, and David Blatt has a reputation as an offensive guru. Something that is not lost on LeBron is how unstoppable the San Antonio Spurs were in easily beating his team, not just because of the hall of fame calibre players but because of a well-oiled offensive system that emphasises sharing the ball.
The offensive load carried by LeBron in the Finals was akin to the heavy burden he was forced to shoulder in countless playoff games with the Cavs between 2006 and 2010, something he surely does not want to go through again.
At Cleveland he can give more and more reign to young stars Irving and Wiggins when his physical powers fade, similar to the way Tim Duncan passes the torch to his younger players while still playing a critical role as a leader, not just a player.
LeBron turns 30 next season and the team he commits to now will probably be the team he retires with – another reason why Cleveland is so attractive. Cleveland’s future is secure. Irving just signed an extension and is tied down for the next 6 years; Wiggins is guaranteed for the next 4 years at least on his rookie contract.
LeBron always affirms that he makes his decisions according to what makes him and his family happy. Right now, Cleveland looks like the happiest choice.