Amico: LeBron Back in Cleveland, But Yes, Rising Cavs Have Moved On

CLEVELAND — Without a doubt, LeBron James always gets fired up to face the Cavaliers. That’s especially the case in Cleveland.LeBron James Kevin Love

Well, guess who’s back in town with the Lakers? And guess who is sure to be asked all sorts of questions eluding to whether he would ever return (again)?

Yeah, James.

Forget that he turns 38-years old at the end of the month. Or that he signed a contract extension with LA this past offseason. By the time his new deal is up, he’ll be approaching his 40th birthday.

In the NBA, that’s the rocking chair era of your career. But when it comes to this day of social media, people are bound to speculate. For James, it’s a no-win situation.

If he praises the Cavs, it means he wants to return. At least, that’s how the fans and media will view it. Every word will be dissected … ad nauseam. 

If he trashes the Cavs, it would sound like sour grapes. And James has never once done that, and never will. They are his hometown team, the team he promised to lead to a title — and then delivered.

Not long after, he left … again. Why, exactly, we don’t really know. Everyone thinks they know, but LeBron himself has never really come out and said. Was it the lure of Hollywood? Was it his family longing to move to California? Was it another disagreement with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert?

We don’t know, and really, we shouldn’t care. It just was what it was. And frankly, the Cavs may be better off for it.


That’s not a shot at James. Far from it. We know what he offered a team in his prime (and to some extent, still really does). But he wouldn’t be carrying the Cavs. At least, not these Cavs.

In fact, when the Lakers win, he doesn’t really carry them, either. That honor belongs to Anthony Davis, and thanks to Davis and his 55-point outburst vs. the Wizards, the Lakers come to Cleveland on a roll. Davis scored 44 in the game before that, a road win over the mighty Bucks.

So the Lakers (10-12) have won two straight. But who knows if it’s actually real. Since trading for Russell Westbrook, the Lakers just haven’t been able to string anything meaningful together. They’ve mostly been a mess. That’s not Westbrook’s fault, not entirely. But that’s the timeline.

Anyway, back to the Cavs. Today, they have a player who is better than James. That would be none other than Donovan Mitchell. He hasn’t won as much as LeBron, he hasn’t proven nearly as much. Career-wise, Mitchell isn’t on that level. But today, he’s the more impactful pro.

The Cavs (15-9) are also clearly the better team with a much brighter future. Really, a much better present if you think about it. Mitchell, Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen (when healthy) alone make them deeper and more athletic than the Lakers.

That’s not to say the Cavs will definitely win. This is the NBA. On most nights, the final result is a crapshoot. Anybody can beat anybody, anywhere, anytime — especially during the regular season.

So, when LeBron is asked what he thinks of the Cavs, win or lose, he’ll offer unabashed praise. Only this time, it won’t just be words.

It’s the truth. The Cavs are better now and are highly likely to be better than James’ team for a long time.

So of course he would love to play with these guys. Why wouldn’t he? Just don’t expect it to ever happen — because it won’t. James is not returning to the franchise to do anything other than sign one of those one-day retirement contracts.

James has moved on, as have the Cavs, and these days, the Cavs got the better end of the deal. 

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