ProBasketballTalk

Rumor: LeBron James could join Lakers or Clippers

A rumor emerged about LeBron James signing with the Lakers a day after the Cavaliers won the 2016 championship.

So, with the Cavs trailing the NBA Finals 3-0 and LeBron’s supporting cast letting him down, you know there’d be speculation about his future outside Cleveland.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer:

Rumblings across the league suggest that LeBron will consider taking his talents out West

Multiple league sources I’ve spoken to think the Lakers or Clippers are viable destinations for King James.

This sound crazy. But LeBron returning to Cleveland sounded crazy before it happened, and that was rumored more than a year before he actually left the Heat.

There are rarely timelines attached to this rumor. LeBron can become a free agent in 2018.

The idea is that LeBron completed his goal by delivering Cleveland a title and now feels unencumbered. He could leave next year – or whenever he wants.

But would LeBron actually leave the Cavaliers again? I think this rumor stays alive for a few reasons:

1. LeBron has hinted at having eyes for another team. He said he’d take a pay cut to play with Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul. If it weren’t already difficult to see that happening in Cleveland, Anthony said they’d want to go “someplace warm.” Los Angeles certainly qualifies.

2. LeBron seemingly enjoys the Los Angeles lifestyle. He owns a house there, as does his agent. LeBron has organized offseason workouts there for the Cavs.

3. LeBron wants to keep the Cavaliers on their toes. His return came with terms – a financial commitment from Cavs owner Dan Gilbert. Don’t spend enough, and LeBron could leave. Whether he actually would follow through, LeBron stands to make his Cleveland experience better by having the threat known.

4. It’s fun. LeBron is the best player in the league, and the Lakers the NBA’s most popular team. The Clippers have newfound relevance and play in a large market. It’s just plain fun to speculate on the possibility and the upheaval it’d cause.

I suspect that last point is driving much of this rumor. Among all the rumors that make at least some sense, this one might be the most intriguing – what it’d mean for both Cleveland and his next team, what it’d mean for the league, what it’d mean for LeBron’s legacy.

People want to discuss it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s grounded in reality or not.