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Will LeBron James finish career at Lakers? Star linked with Cavs return

NBA executives are fuelling speculation that the Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James could end his illustrious career back at the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Will LeBron James finish career at Lakers? Star linked with Cavs return
David BerdingAFP

LeBron James’ time at the Los Angeles Lakers has yielded an NBA championship, so no-one can call it a failure. However, it would be fair to say that the superstar’s so far three years in LA have been slightly underwhelming.

Cavaliers doing well as LeBron's Lakers struggle

James, who joined the Lakers on a four-year contract that was a clear signal of his commitment to the project, is currently battling to help turn the team’s fortunes back around. Meanwhile, the franchise where he has spent much of his glittering career, the Cleveland Cavaliers, have been one of the NBA’s major surprise packages in 2021/22.

This season, for the third time in four years, James has missed a significant period of the campaign. Between his ankle, his abdomen and a brief stint in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the 17-time All-Star has had to sit out 12 out of the 37 games. As a result, the Lakers have slumped to a 19-19 record.

Unlike the first time James left Cleveland, the 21-16 Cavaliers appear to be on an upward trajectory, albeit they remain well short of the level that brought four NBA finals between 2015 and 2018. For context, the Cavs won just 19 games in their first two seasons following James’ 2018 departure for the Lakers.

This summer, James spoke of his desire to see out his playing days in Los Angeles, telling the SmartLess podcast: "I truly hope that I can finish my career with the Lakers. However many years that is, if it's four, five, six, whatever, seven. I hope I can continue to play the game. I love being in LA, my family loves being in LA. Being with a historical franchise like the Lakers is something."

LeBron's desire for Cavs return the "worst-kept secret" in the NBA

A lot can happen between now and summer 2023, when the 37-year-old’s contract expires, however. The Lakers have the oldest roster in the league, while the Cavs have a considerably younger group of players, with a lot of potential for the future.

The contrasting trajectories of the Lakers and the Cavaliers has logically led to speculation over a James return to Cleveland, and there are league executives who believe he’ll finish his career back in Ohio. Indeed, they have even branded the four-time MVP’s desire to rejoin the Cavs as the “worst-kept secret” in the NBA.

Seeing the player retire back where it all began would certainly be a Hollywood ending to King James’ NBA story.