As one of the most powerful voices for many, many years in the NBA, LeBron James knows exactly how much weight his words carry and everything he says has a calculated meaning.
So, LeBron spending the near entirety of the All-Star break complimenting multiple other general managers around the league while apparently at an all-time low point with his own feels very intentional. And his comments on Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman feel as pointed as any of them.
Considering his relationship with the city and franchise, James showering the roster and front office with praise should raise some more eyebrows about his future in Hollywood. In Jason Lloyd’s piece for The Athletic — which included a far more interesting quote from James on the door not being closed on a return to Cleveland — the Akron native spoke highly of the current state of the Cavaliers.
“I think Koby and those guys have done an unbelievable job drafting and making trades,” James said. “I think big fella (Allen), that acquisition was amazing for them to make that trade. Obviously Darius Garland is a big-time player. And I think the role that Kevin (Love) is playing right now has kind of uplifted those young guys, seeing a veteran that could sacrifice, a champion that’s won a championship, all the things that he’s done, to come off the bench and play this role. I am not surprised by anything that they’re doing right now.”
It certainly feels like déjà vu all over again with James and the Cavaliers. The cycle usually involves James playing for the Cavs, leaving them barren of assets, Cleveland rebuilding while James succeeds elsewhere and then James returning to Cleveland to restart the cycle.
For the second time in his career, James has left the Cavaliers and they have rebuilt with lots of talented young players, this time with a far more successful team overall than last time when they had an uber-talented young point guard in Kyrie Irving. So if all those feels like a situation that has played out before, that’s because it has.
And if all this feels like it’s overlooking his final year-and-a-half with the Lakers, that’s because there’s a sense of inevitability as the situation gets worse and LeBron makes more and more comments about other GMs around the league. Certainly, things can change and a year-and-a-half is a long time, but this all has the feel of James eyeing the destination of his next contract and that certainly doesn't appear to be Los Angeles.