USA Today via Reuters

“‘What is going on in Cleveland?'” This was the question everyone was asking ESPN’s Brian Windhorst when LeBron James showed up for Cavaliers Game 4 defeat to Celtics. His visit to Cleveland on May 13, came when there is uncertainty over his future with Lakers. It evoked a sense of rampant curiosity and eagerness and even nostalgia of what happened 10 years ago. Was James indicating another homecoming?

Despite the Los Angeles Lakers having been eliminated in the first round of playoffs, their star player, continues to make headlines. After Lakers’ exit at the hands of Nuggets in the first round, speculation around James’ future intensified. Rumors and possibilities were discussed. Trade scenarios were formulated in the following hours. Many narratives were painted about his intentions behind appearing at the Cavs game. Well, the player has now broken his silence about his appearance at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Bron spoke about this excessive attention on an episode of his podcast series, Mind the Game. His son Bronny is getting more attention since he participated in the draft combine a few days ago, which was right after LeBron attended the game at Cleveland. James feels that his vagueness on the matter is probably the reason why everyone is so obsessed with Bronny right now.


Article continues below this ad

James mentioned the probable reason for all the attention on his son – his reluctance to answer anything related to his visit at the Cavaliers’ playoff game against the Celtics. “I think they say you know, ‘Since your dad’ not in the playoffs no more, you know what? We’re going to ride your coattail, Bronny James. We can’t get to say anything right now. He declined an interview at the Cavs game. We can’t get him to say anything. So we’re gonna use your son,” James expressed.

In the podcast, Bron spoke about the level of maturity and modesty his son possesses right now, to which JJ Redick cheekily said, “The NBA media got a week’s worth of content out of him being at the draft combine”. Just after saying this, he broke into laughter. LeBron James concurred with the sentiment too.

USA Today via Reuters

Reddick even accused the NBA media of concentrating on non-playoff matters and using terrestrial subjects for content. It was about the rumors swirling of his being the next head coach for the Lakers. Meanwhile, how much truth is there in James moving to Cavs?

Social media dived into speculation when James showed up in Cleveland. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said NBA executives were blowing up his phone when James arrived. “My phone, I started getting people in the NBA, multiple general managers, sending my own meme back to me, saying, ‘What is going on in Cleveland?’”, Windhorst said.

Interestingly, 10 years ago, James was in his fourth season with the Heat. He flew to Cleveland to attend former teammate Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ number retirement ceremony. In the summer he moved back to Cavaliers leading them to the NBA title a year later.

Right now, LeBron James has a $51.4 million player option for next season with Lakers. He could turn it down and sign a long-term contract or he could become an unrestricted free agent. This has led to rumors that he will make a return to Cavaliers, where he started his NBA career in 2003.

Rashad McCants’s also interpreted LeBron James’s attendance at the Cavs-Celtics Game 4 as a strategic move which could hint that he is either unhappy with Lakers or ready to start a third stint with his first franchise. One thing that could entice James is that Cavs could offer him a chance to win the NBA Championship one more time.

The Cavs have $156.5 million in active salary on their books for next season. This means they are well above the projected $141 million salary cap. This would allow them to offer James $12.9 million non-taxpayer mid-level exception as a free agent. Thus, Cavs will be able to retain a strong core of Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley, Max Strus, Caris LeVert, Georges Niang, Dean Wade. Such a team, with the addition of NBA’s top scorer shall be able to challenge for the title, giving James one last shot at glory.

So far James hasn’t given any indication as to where he will play next season. After the Lakers crashed out of the playoffs- his retirement, a move away from Lakers were all topics of debate. But King James was quick to shut down all the noise. He tweeted, “I’ve seen, heard a lot of reports about my future. I said it last night and I’ll say it again. I do not know yet as I’m only thinking about spending time with my family & friends! When I know after speaking with the fam, my counsel as well as my representation about it then you guys will know. Until then [hush emoji]. Love [crown emoji].”

But then came his Cleveland visit, and the noise got louder. Yet how accurate were the narratives the media had conjured? What’s LeBron really up to?

What was LeBron James doing at the Cavs game?


Article continues below this ad

As per NBA reporter Grant Asfeth, LeBron was at the Cavs game for a reason totally related to the Lakers. and no, it was not a ploy or a mind game on the LA side. Rather, it was probably to help his team out to scout Darius Garland as a potential addition to their side.

Asfeth writes, that it could be speculation but as per some sources, James was at the Cavs game to inspect how Garland performs since he could be a potential target for the Lakers. Since the time he got eliminated from the Cavs, Garland’s name has been floating around in the trade circles. So whether it pans out or not, remains to be seen as Donovan Mitchell also needs to be considered here when it comes to the Cavaliers. If Mitchell signs an extension with them, Garland might be out of Cleaveland, which is where LeBron and the Lakers would take him in.

Moreover, LeBron was in attendance with his wife Savannah and agent Rich Paul, who also is also the agent for Darius Garland.


Article continues below this ad

So, his probable reason to go to that particular game would be to see what Garland has that’s missing from the Lakers. Earlier, when he was just fresh out of college, the Lakers were very much interested in him but didn’t get an opportunity to get him into their team. This might be the time they tap into Garland’s talent.

So did Lakers send James on a scouting mission? Well, for now we know that he will continue to be in headlines until a decision over his future is made.