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Is the door still open for LeBron James to return to the Cavaliers in 2024?

The Cavaliers made the blockbuster trade of the summer by landing Donovan Mitchell. Even then, could the door still be open for LeBron James to return to Cleveland?

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Los Angeles Lakers v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

For a brief moment this offseason, the potential of yet another LeBron James return to Cleveland felt possible once again. The date when the Lakers and LeBron could agree to an extension came and went with the sides not putting pen to paper. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers were becoming an increasingly appealing option with a young core and suspiciously large amount of cap space for the summer LeBron would hit free agency.

Over the last two weeks, though, LeBron and the Lakers agreed to an extension and, more shockingly, the Cavs landed Donovan Mitchell. The pair of moves would, to most, indicate that the longshot dream was over. But some minor details have left a small crack in the door and considering the deliberate nature in which LeBron does basically everything, it feels noteworthy to point out.

At the underbelly of all this — and all predictions for LeBron’s future — is his continued declaration of intent to play with his son in the NBA. It’s an ambitious stance but one that seems increasingly likely with each passing season that LeBron doesn’t actually appear to age.

For the Lakers, that effectively takes things out of their control. While they agreed to a two-year extension with LeBron, they can’t guarantee that Bronny will be a Laker in the future, as is the nature of the NBA Draft.

That would potentially explain the noteworthy omission of a draft pick from the Cavs in their trade for Donovan Mitchell. Of the five first round draft picks sent to Utah, the one retained by Cleveland was their 2024 pick...the year Bronny would be draft eligible. LeBron is very aware of who does and does not have future draft picks to draft either of his sons (and because he’s always out scouting that future talent).

The Mitchell trade itself got the LeBron seal of approval as Mitchell now joins fellow Klutch client Darius Garland in the Cleveland backcourt.

In a vacuum, that wouldn’t be too noteworthy as LeBron loves to offer his two cents, even if it isn’t the sport he plays, but it’s not the first compliment he’s thrown the way of the Cavs and their front office in the last year. So long as LeBron is in the NBA and the Cavaliers aren’t an absolute dumpster fire, it’ll always feel possible for him to return home again.

One of the major hurdles teams would seemingly have to clear in pairing Bronny with LeBron is the financial one with LeBron never taking anything but the max since his days in Miami. But LeBron has made it clear that money would not be a factor at that point and he would be willing to take the minimum to sign with any team to play with Bronny.

LeBron can opt out of his contract with the Lakers in 2024. As of now, Donovan Mitchell, Jarett Allen, Darius Garland and Evan Mobley all are under contract for the 2024-25 season. That alone would be an intriguing situation for LeBron not even accounting for Bronny potentially being on the roster as well.

So, you would have a situation where LeBron wants to play with Bronny. The Cavaliers have a 2024 first round draft pick to potentially select Bronny. LeBron has spoken highly of Koby Altman’s roster-building in the last year, including their most recent blockbuster trade. Cleveland is home for LeBron.

It’s a lot of dots to connect, but none of them feel like reaches. It still requires a lot of puzzle pieces to fall into the right place. But even with everything that’s transpired this summer when it felt like it was no longer a possibility, there’s still plenty to worry about for Lakers fans. And lots of pressure to get some things right in the coming season.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.