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Don’t look now, Cleveland Cavaliers fans, but with what’s been transpiring with your favorite basketball team on the court has once against rekindled talk about LeBron James bolting Northeast Ohio again via free agency this summer.
Sam Amick of USA Today appeared on the HoopsHype Podcast with Alex Kennedy and sees the possibility of James declining his $34 player option and leaving the Cavaliers as a very real possibility.
“I don’t know where he goes, but with the mood of the moment – for a lot of obvious reasons – I’m leaning toward him leaving,” Amick said. “I understand people who say that the [best way] to stay in The Finals every year is staying in Cleveland because of the East, but Boston and Toronto are legit so I think that narrative is a little outdated at this point. “
Amick said even if James decides to reup with Cleveland this summer, there are no guarantees of the Cavaliers remaining the prohibitive favorite to reach The Finals.
If he stays in Cleveland, I don’t think there’s any guarantee whatsoever that he’s getting back to The Finals,” Amick said. “The days of surrounding LeBron with some halfway-capable players and he’ll take them to The Finals are gone.
“I think the relationship stuff is also a major factor,” he said. “I talked about Dan Gilbert a bit earlier and the reality that doesn’t get talked about enough is that, from my understanding, LeBron and Dan mended fences enough to get to this point where they won a title and have been to The Finals multiple years in a row.
“But it’s not like they had a Kumbaya moment and became best friends.”
Amick said the Houston Rockets remain a possible landing spot for James, should he depart.
“I wrote about [LeBron going to] Houston earlier this year and heard some really, really interesting stuff on that front, so I’m a little bit of a sucker for that idea,” he said. “I know people say, ‘Don’t go West! Why would you get into the ring with the Warriors and the Spurs and this new-look Thunder team if they can figure it out?’
“But, for one, the Rockets showed us just a few nights ago that they can beat the Warriors. They have his best friend, Chris Paul. And I’m not trying to make too much of a friendship, but those guys would play wonderfully together along with James Harden, who I think is the MVP right now.”
Amick did clarify some recent rumors he heard about James and his wife scouting a school in Los Angeles as a possibility for his children.
“Someone I really trust told me that the school subplot – that LeBron and his wife were already looking for a school in Los Angeles for their kids – was a complete misunderstanding,” he said. “Maybe it’s not the case. But they said that he was shooting a commercial near that school and said, ‘I want to take a breather and get some shots in. Where is there a court near here?’
“And he wound up shooting hoops at the school and then afterward, they were just poking around before going back to the commercial shoot. But they said he was shooting a commercial right nearby and that’s the only reason he was in the neighborhood. But who knows?”