As the end of June approaches, it appears as if LeBron James has narrowed down his decision between two teams.
Cleveland or Los Angeles.
The case for James to head to L.A. certainly appears to be the favored one around the NBA. During halftimes of the NBA Finals, it seemed as if the broadcasters and analysts were doing everything in their power to force the hand of James into signing with the Lakers. Add on the slew of #HeGone tweets and the unfavorable Vegas odds and it almost looks as if James in purple and gold is only days away.
When James came back home in 2014, the Cavaliers were far from a finished product, similar to the current Lakers roster.
However, James is approaching his 34th birthday in December. Does he really want to uproot his family and start with a brand new franchise?
With only 29 games remaining in the 2017-18 season, Cleveland completely revamped their roster and dealt with injuries and a leave of absence from their coach and still made it to the NBA Finals.
With the additions of Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. and Collin Sexton, the Cavalier roster has restored youth, making it slightly more enticing for James to stay and build a better basketball relationship with these players.
In the past week, two members of the 2017-18 Cavaliers — a player and another staff member — relayed to ESPN that they believe Cleveland has the best chance of any team to land LeBron.
On top of that, ESPN reported, “James won’t be seeking elaborate free-agency pitch meetings this summer; there is a sense of James already knowing what he needs to know.”
The pressure seems to have shifted to the Lakers, now. It seems as if the Lakers have struggled to land All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard via trade. Furthermore, it appears as if Paul George is leaning towards re-signing with the Oklahoma City Thunder, pumping the breaks on his homecoming to the Lakers.
Magic Johnson and the Lakers have seemed to hit a roadblock in landing a superstar talent and that could possibly allow James to make the easy decision: just stay home.
But there is an underlying factor in all of this chaos.
James was not born on Sunset Boulevard. Nor was he born in Beverly Hills. Rather, he was born in Akron, where he decided to return home to in 2014.
The self-proclaimed James Gang’s hometown loyalty is what will influence LeBron’s decision the most.
After getting swept by the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of the 2018 Finals, James was the first player to head into the locker room. He exchanged handshakes with his sons, a hug for his mother and a kiss for his wife, Savannah as he ventured down the tunnel at Quicken Loans Arena.
There was no stop, wave or gesture to the home fans from James to say goodbye. Quite possibly, there was no reason for him to do so just yet.
Nick Pedone, who is still nervously wearing his LeBron jersey, can be reached on Twitter @NickPedone12