CLEVELAND

The NBA Conspiracy: How LeBron James Will Return to Cleveland in 2022

On draft night, an NBA conspiracy was born. While this is a complete long shot, here’s how it is still possible for LeBron James to return home.

Artwork via Nick Pedone

In the Bible, the parable of the Prodigal Son tells a story that is a lot closer to home than some basketball fans might realize.

That home is Cleveland. And that son is one of our own, LeBron James.

For those who are unfamiliar, the Prodigal Son story features a son who is an unpredictable free spirt. After demanding his share from his father, the son leaves home when he is young and wild to pursue a lavish and extravagant lifestyle.

Sound familiar?

Think of when James took his talents to South Beach, joining forces with NBA superstars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The Prodigal Son, James, would live a splendid lifestyle during his time away from home, parading down the streets of downtown Miami twice with the Larry O’Brien trophy in his hand and palm trees over his head.

But in the Bible, the son returned home to his father, realizing his foolish lifestyle was not fulfilling. He returns home and asks for forgiveness and mercy. The father welcomed the son, LeBron, home with open arms and ordered for a giant party to be held in his honor.

Remember the homecoming party at Akron’s Infocision Stadium? How about the 1.3 million people that flooded the streets of Cleveland in the muggy heat to celebrate their son’s first championship in Cleveland?

But the difference is, the Prodigal Son didn’t bolt away from home again. The son was truly fulfilled with compassion thanks to his return home. As we know, James left home again, partnering with Anthony Davis, to pursue a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers while focusing on his post-career endeavors in the film, music and media industries.

But every great movie needs a storybook ending.

For James, his road home to Cleveland began on Thursday night, without him even knowing it. The Cavaliers drafted Darius Garland, an unproven guard from Vanderbilt. Garland’s agent, Rich Paul, is also the agent of James.

While it seems like a humdrum lottery pick on paper, Garland, who is set to become the Cavs point guard of the future, could work as the bridge between James and Cleveland in 2021 or 2022, whenever James decides to enter unrestricted free agency. James has a player option and could become a free agent after the 2020-2021 season, according to Sportrac.

We know James loves to team up with Klutch Sports, Paul’s agency, athletes whenever the situation is appropriate.

The situation, all be it 2021, sure looks appropriate for James to head home to Cleveland. The then-37-year-old will have a supporting cast entering their primes with Garland, Collin Sexton, Osman, Dylan Windler, and Kevin Porter Jr. just coming into their true forms.

The Cavaliers own their own draft picks in the 2020 NBA Draft and the 2021 draft. In 2021 and 2022, the Cavs also possess the Milwaukee Bucks selections. On top of a number of second round picks and valuable expiring contracts that could be traded, the Cavs are set up nicely to have a young core in place to carry help carry James.

James’s son, Bronny, would also be draft eligible as soon as 2023.

In a newly renovated Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, the city of Cleveland is set to host the 2022 NBA All-Star Game. A newly refurnished arena, with the attention of basketball fans all over the world, is certainly fit for a king.

By the time 2021 or 2022 arrives, the Cleveland Browns could also be on the verge of something very special and Cleveland could quickly become a great sports town again, urging James one step further away from Los Angeles, where most people couldn’t care less about sports.

Let’s not forget, the Browns have Odell Beckham Jr. under contract until 2024. James and Beckham have a personal relationship. Beckham appeared on the debut of James’ HBO series “The Shop.”

“He just said you’re going to love it,’’ Beckham said of his conversation with James about Cleveland. “He was like, ‘yeah, you’re going to love it.’ That’s the key word. That’s like my idol, that’s the person I look up to the most. That’s my guy. To see what he did to bring a championship here, I just want to be able to do that same thing.’’

Surely, it seemed like James did a fine job getting Beckham excited about coming to Cleveland to join the Browns. Maybe in the next three years, Beckham could convince his buddy to return home.

On Friday morning, as Garland is walked-off of a jet at the I-X Center in Cleveland to meet his new Head Coach John Beilein, James posted an Instagram story of his son, Bronny, with a Drake song in the background. Drake’s lyrics recite, “Bronny buying up Brentwood [California] like he’s still in Akron.” In response, James posted the snippet of that verse with three “home” emojis, tagged his son, tagged Drake, and wrote #FamilyTies.

Maybe family ties with his Klutch Sports agency, Garland, his superstar friend Beckham and the star-studded Browns, and his own son, Bronny, could lead him home for a fairytale ending fit for a king in Cleveland come 2022.

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