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#pounditFriday, June 2, 2023

Cavaliers might not want LeBron James back?

If LeBron James again decides to tell the Cleveland Cavaliers, “I’m back,” they may have a two-word response of their own for him — “No thanks.”

Veteran NBA writer Marc Stein cast some doubt on the possibility of James returning to Cleveland for a third stint in a post to Substack this week.

“In conversations with people I had in Cleveland, I think it’s just assumed that the Cavs would jump at the chance to get LeBron back … and I really don’t think that’s the case,” Stein wrote.

The Los Angeles Lakers star James, who can become a free agent in 2023, ignited speculation about another homecoming during All-Star Weekend in Cleveland. James hinted that he was open to one more hurrah with the Cavs.

But it makes sense that the Cavs themselves may not want that on their end. At 35-23 this season, this is their first real taste of success without James on the roster. Cleveland has focused on developing young and/or homegrown talent with players they drafted like Darius Garland and Evan Mobley plus players they acquired like Jarrett Allen and Lauri Markkanen. Garland and Allen were All-Stars this season, and another player that the Cavs drafted, the injured Collin Sexton, has blossomed into a 20-point-per-game scorer.

For as much talent as James has, he comes with his own set of headaches. The four-time MVP has a tendency to domineer his teams, ruining young player development, butting into roster decisions, and waging war against management when things do not go his way. We have even seen plenty of that this season with a franchise as storied as the Lakers.

James will be going on 39 by the time that he becomes a free agent. With the amount of scrutiny that James attracts and the dysfunction that he brings, it is hard to blame the Cavs if they do not see James as worth it any more, especially since they are already living their best lives without him.

Photo: Jan 21, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) against the Orlando Magic during the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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