With the summer of 2014 quickly approaching, the length of a contract the Cavs will absorb is now limited.
Executives and agents around the league are convinced the Cavaliers won't do anything to jeopardize their ability to sign a free agent to a max contract during the summer of 2014, when LeBron James can again become a free agent. As fans in Northeast Ohio continue to howl and remain divided about the possibility of his return, more and more people around the league believe there is a strong possibility James will indeed return to Cleveland after next season.
The Cavs are well aware of this, too, and won't take on a bad contract if it compromises their cap space in two years. That means any bad contract they would obtain in a potential trade would have to expire after next season. It doesn't make a deal impossible, but it dramatically reduces the field — and it decreases the price the Cavs can command since their future obligations would be brief.
The possibility of James returning to Cleveland seems outlandish after the summer of 2010 and "The Decision." Jerseys, clothes and kicks with James' number 23 on it were torched, northeast Ohioans revolted, Dan Gilbert spouted off in Comic Sans and the Cavs started over again.
For a city that is accustomed to being scorned or falling short of the big prize, LeBron choosing to come back after so unceremoniously departing would be quite the surprising bit of redemption.
Could James, now with the monkey of winning a title off his back, bring one to a city so thirsty to end its drought? Would fans welcome back their former ‘King' with open arms?
James would have some incentive to return to Cleveland for a second stint. Kyrie Irving, when healthy, has become a top-flight point guard. Tristan Thompson, Tyler Zeller and Dion Waiters are all first round picks still young enough to develop into solid contributors. Add on two more first round picks in the 2013 Draft and the Cavs could have an appealing young nucleus with which to entice James.
If James wants to prove he can win a title without Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, signing with the Cavs could present that on a silver platter. With a year and half until he hits free agency, be prepared for many more rumors about James' intentions - and plenty of speculation that will not come to fruition, just like his first free agency foray.