Will LeBron James return to Cleveland? It’s looking more likely.


(WILFREDO LEE/EPA)

The rumor mill is churning, as speculation continues to grow that LeBron James could be returning to Cleveland. ESPN reporter Chris Broussard had this to say.

And if you don’t believe him, a Cleveland cupcake shop confirms the news.

 

Okay, so maybe the cupcake shop shouldn’t be trusted source of NBA free agency news, but there still might be some truth to the latest buzz.

[More on James: How the Cavs can afford him | Silence fuels the rumors]

Here’s some evidence: The infamous James tell-off letter memorably composed in Comic Sans by Cavaliers majority owner Dan Gilbert disappeared from the Cavs’ Web site today, according to ESPN reporter Brian Windhorst.

There’s also James’s agent Rich Paul, who seems to be working quite hard to make sure the money’s there to ensure the star’s return to Ohio. Yahoo Sports writes:

At the urging of LeBron James’ agent, the Cleveland Cavaliers are pursuing a maximum contract salary slot to bring back the free-agent superstar, league sources told Yahoo Sports. For years, [Rich] Paul has confided to people that bringing back James to Cleveland has been something of a mission for him, and he’s encouraging Cavaliers officials to offer no restraint in the recruitment of James, sources said.

And James is listening, according to Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick, who points out the power of James’s advisers, a factor Miami Heat may not have taken into consideration thus far.

ESPN adds to the intrigue:

There has yet to be a firm indication that James actually is ready to leave Miami after four years and two championships with the Heat, but sources told ESPN.com that the four-time MVP is increasingly considering the Cavaliers as an option as he moves into the final stages of deciding which team to sign his next contract with.

But it’s not just about the money for James. He wants to win, and it looks like the Caveliers know that. They pitched their younger, increasingly stronger roster to James’s agent last week. ESPN writes:

Sources say that the Cavs’ pitch made to Paul last week — which they also hope to make this week to James in their own face-to-face meeting — revolves around Kyrie Irving and the other young prospects they have, in addition to the numerous options Cleveland possesses to add to the roster over the next year.

Ability to make championship runs will likely be one of the most critical considerations in James’s decision. After all, it was Miami’s all-star, winning roster that lured James to the Heat in the first place, and now the Cavs have a plan of their own. ESPN writes:

While several teams like the Heat, Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets have cap space to make moves this summer, the Cavs hope to show James how they have collected and created tools to continue adding into the next few years.

The Cavs also believe they have made the greatest move yet this summer, convincing Irving to sign a five-year maximum contract extension in the first few hours of free agency. With No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins under control for the next five seasons as well, the Cavs are pitching youth and roster stability to James, who played on one of the oldest teams in the league last season.

Cavs fans, as well, seem to be coming around on the possibility of welcoming James back after the star’s 2010 decision to “take [his] talents to South Beach” angered them so much that they burned their LeBron jerseys. A poll by Cleveland.com found nearly 72 percent of respondents said they would love to see James return to the Cavs. Around 28 percent said “no thanks,” but perhaps bringing the Cavs to the NBA Finals might change those holdouts’ minds. And also LeBron might want to think about replacing their burned jerseys, as well.

Marissa Payne writes for The Early Lead, a fast-breaking sports blog, where she focuses on what she calls the “cultural anthropological” side of sports, aka “mostly the fun stuff.” She is also an avid WWE fan.
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