Could LeBron be looking for some California Love? As things turn sour in Cleveland, LeBron could look for solace out west

By Evin Hartsock, Managing Editor

    It is pretty clear to anyone who knows anything about the NBA that Cleveland Cavalier forward LeBron James in is the business of one thing, winning titles. In fact, James wanted to win so badly that he scorned his hometown team that drafted him, the Cavs, and took his talents to South Beach to play for the Miami Heat. In Miami, he teamed up with good friends Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, played some of the best basketball of his life, and won two titles.

     Even though things were good in Miami, and the Heat had gone to four-straight finals appearances, James decided to switch teams again. He headed back to Cleveland where he ended up bringing home the hardware for the Cavaliers for the first time and further cementing himself as the greatest athlete the state of Ohio had ever seen.

     But just why did he go back to Cleveland? Some people say it was to sure up his legacy and to quell the animosity that Northeast Ohio showed to him for skipping town. Others seem to think he saw another path to a championship, as the Cavaliers had a young star guard in Kyrie Irving and enough cap space to sign top free agents or pull of big trades. Which they did.

        But since winning a championship, and losing twice to the Golden State Warriors in the Finals, there has been plenty of speculation about the possibility of LeBron leaving Cleveland yet again. The Cavs have currently lost seven of their last 10 games and continue to be in the headlines for various off-the-court issues concerning team chemistry. Things look like their taking a turn for the worst in Cleveland. They do not seem to have the firepower to take down the Warriors in the Finals, if they could even make it there. So, if this is his last season as a Cav, where could James end up?

      Many of the signs point to James heading out West to join a team that could challenge the Warriors in a possible Western Conference Finals match-up, with rumors swirling about one of those teams being the Lakers. There have been multiple reports, one of which coming from Colin Cowherd, the host of his radio show The Herd, that sources have said that the three-time champion’s move to L.A. is more likely than most think.

    This move also makes a lot of sense as well. Most of LeBron’s team of business partners, trainers, and the production studios he has been working with are all located in L.A. His wife has expressed interesting in moving out west and has also been seen looking for schools for their children in the area.

     From a basketball perspective, it works as well. The Lakers have a plethora of young, budding talent in Lonzo Ball, who likes to pass the ball a lot, Kyle Kuzma, and Brandon Ingram. There’s no doubt that these players could be even elevated even further with a presence like James on the floor, and the Lakers would still have enough cap space to sign a top free agent as well. One of those free agents could possibly be Paul George, who has expressed on many occasions wanting to play for his hometown team, which happens to be the Lakers.

      While the Lakers could be a potential landing spot for James if he chooses to leave Cleveland, they are not the only L.A. team with a shot at landing the former MVP. This week, the Los Angeles Clippers made a blockbuster trade, sending their franchise star Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons for two draft picks and a few role-players. The move was a public announcement that the Clippers are going into full rebuild mode, but that does not mean they still couldn’t land LeBron. The Griffin trade freed up tons of cap room and although the Clippers still have a large contract on the books in center   Deandre Jordan, it is expected that the Clippers could move him too before the break, freeing up even more cap room.

      Keeping Jordan would not be a bad thing either as he is still a solid big man who provides good rim protection. But the cap space opened up from trading Griffin opens up the doors as a possible landing spot for James and enough funds to sign other top players as well. With the current role players the Clippers currently have in players such as Lou Williams, LeBron and another top free agent could give the Warriors a run for their money.
The Houston Rockets have also been a name that has come up in LeBron destination talks, largely in part to the fact that they have become a powerhouse in the Western Conference with the backcourt duo of James Harden and Chris Paul. The Rockets are currently second in the West and are poised to take Golden State into the conference finals barring any serious setbacks. While LeBron probably waters at the mouth thinking about joining up with two other all-stars, this scenario is probably the least likely of all.

     Unless Houston can work some deal to clear cap space, the Rockets don’t have funds to bring the King to Texas.