Feb 17, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) during a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

League Executives think LeBron could return to Cleveland, just not in 2014

LeBron James makes another return to Cleveland tonight, but this time it feels different. For the last couple of years, James has come back to Cleveland with many years in Miami ahead of him, but now he is set to become a free agent at the end of the season.

There are rumors out there that say LeBron could return to the team that drafted him, but that is unlikely. According to the Sporting News, there are league executives who think he could return to Cleveland, just not this time around:

“I wouldn’t think he would do that,” one Eastern Conference general manager said. “He helped build Miami into a champion, I can’t imagine he plans to play there four years and take off. That might look as bad now as it did in 2010. If you are a star, you have to build an identity. Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar) left Milwaukee, but he stayed in Los Angeles.”

“I would think they would have to call,” said a Western Conference executive. “I would think he would have to listen. I would say whatever it is, the whole thing is not going to be done publicly like last time, or like Dwight Howard (this summer). I don’t think you will see that. I would be surprised if LeBron would want that. I think he stays in Miami, but he has to listen to what the Cavs have to say. You’re just not going to see anyone parading it around.”

As another East executive said, “If he wanted to sign in Cleveland, I can guarantee you, they would forgive him pretty fast. You’re not going to turn down the best player in the league for spite.”

“Could I see him finishing his career in Cleveland? Absolutely,” the East exec said. “But next year? No, not that soon.”

I don’t think LeBron returns to Cleveland this time around, but I could see him signing his last contract there, and have his career go full circle. James has options out there, and Cleveland may not be favorable in his eyes. I don’t think he’s a lock to stay in Miami, either.

I hope you like seeing LeBron’s free agency, because it’s not going anywhere.

Tags: Cleveland Cavaliers Lebron James Miami Heat