Since the NBA Finals concluded last June, rumors that LeBron James was considering leaving the Cavaliers after the 2017-18 season have swirled across the league. On Thursday, NBA writer Chris Sheridan cited a source confirming that the upcoming season will be LeBron’s final season in Cleveland:
NBA source said today: "This will be LeBron's final season in Cleveland. He is 100 percent leaving. Relationship with owners beyond repair."— Chris Sheridan (@sheridanhoops) August 16, 2017
The Cavaliers’ off-season has already been tumultuous. They parted ways with general manager David Griffin just a few days before the draft—a move not endorsed by James—and did not name a replacement GM until late July. They have not been able to add rumored potential trade targets Paul George or Carmelo Anthony, and news leaked that last month that All-Star PG Kyrie Irving had requested a trade.
Joe Vardon, who covers the Cavs for Cleveland.com, has denied Sheridan’s report:
For what it's worth (damn it, I'm on vacation), three sources close to LeBron said this latest tweet about him is 100 percent false— Joe Vardon (@joevardon) August 16, 2017
I have more: three sources paid particular attention to LeBron's relationship with ownership, and said LeBron does not view it that way— Joe Vardon (@joevardon) August 16, 2017
And finally, one of the sources close to LeBron said there is no NBA source who could speak on his behalf in the way it was reported— Joe Vardon (@joevardon) August 16, 2017
It’s unclear who Sheridan’s source is, but it’s worth noting that Sheridan was the first person to report that James was returning to Cleveland back in 2014. The Cavaliers have made the NBA Finals each of the three seasons since LeBron returned, winning the NBA Championship in 2016.
The 32-year-old forward averaged 26.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 8.7 assists for the Cavaliers last season, his 14th in the NBA. He is scheduled to make $33.3 million this year. His contract includes a $35.6 million player option in 2018-19.