A major rebuild before the trade deadline might have been enough for the Cleveland Cavaliers to convince LeBron James to stay with the team for at least another year.
"I wouldn’t be surprised if he stays in Cleveland now," one high-ranking Eastern Conference team executive told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. "The Cavaliers put a really good team around him. The Cavaliers have made it really tough for him to decide to leave Cleveland again. The Lakers might have helped them keep LeBron."
James has a chance to enter free agency this summer if he rejects his player option worth about $35 million for next season.
There has been plenty of speculation about the four-time MVP leaving Cleveland this offseason, potentially joining the Los Angeles Lakers. The organization cleared plenty of cap space at the trade deadline by dealing away Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. to the Cavs, adding expiring contracts.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Lakers will have room for two max contracts, with James and Paul George representing the dream scenario.
However, the deal was extremely useful from Cleveland's perspective. The team added two useful rotational players, who along with George Hill and Rodney Hood, represented a significant retooling for the contenders at the trade deadline.
The Cavaliers were floundering with 13 losses in 19 games but have won four in a row entering the All-Star break, the last two coming with the new additions.
Although the Lakers cleared the necessary room to add James, they helped transform his current team back into a legitimate contender filled with younger, more athletic players. If this leads to another deep run in the postseason, James could want to stay for more.