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Third time’s a charm? LeBron on return to Cavaliers: ‘The door’s not closed on that’

2018 NBA Finals - Game Four

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 08: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts in the first half against the Golden State Warriors during Game Four of the 2018 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 8, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

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LeBron James is locked in with the Lakers, under contract this season and next — and his frustration with the struggling Lakers is evident in his body language and his words. He also reiterated Saturday he wants to play with his son Bronny — currently a high school junior — if he makes it to the NBA in a couple of years.

All that has some around the league speculating LeBron could switch teams again in a couple of seasons.

With the All-Star game in Cleveland, Jason Lloyd of The Athletic asked LeBron if a return to the Cavaliers was possible.

“The door’s not closed on that,” James told The Athletic Saturday following the East’s team practice on the campus of Cleveland State. “I’m not saying I’m coming back and playing, I don’t know. I don’t know what my future holds. I don’t even know when I’m free.”

First, yes he knows when he is free. LeBron is an intelligent man.

Second, LeBron’s free agent/negotiation strategy has always been to leave every door open as long as possible. That’s not changing now.

Third, would the Cavaliers want him? The 35-23 Cavaliers sit fourth in the East, and as Lloyd notes at the Athletic, young star Darius Garland wants the Cavaliers to carve out a new identity post-LeBron (the franchise has not made the playoffs since he left). LeBron changes the culture and dynamic of any team he is on, he is the alpha (and has earned that title), that may not be what the Cavaliers want at the time.

Fourth is Bronny. If LeBron does leave the Lakers in a couple of seasons, it will be to go somewhere to play where Bronny is drafted. (If he is drafted and where is a topic for another day.)

“My last year will be played with my son,” James said. “Wherever Bronny is at, that’s where I’ll be. I would do whatever it takes to play with my son for one year. It’s not about the money at that point.”

It’s doubtful LeBron returns to the Cavaliers (except maybe someday on a one-day contract so he can retire a Cav). But never say never in the NBA — especially around LeBron James.