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Is LeBron really leaving the Cavaliers?

Good morning. We have that and more in Thursday’s NBA newsletter.

2017 NBA Finals - Game Five Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The rumors about LeBron James leaving the Cavaliers next summer have been rampant. You sense they are affecting even other Cavaliers, as this interview with Kyrie Irving indicates. Irving states that the Cavaliers "are in a peculiar place." That's no way to talk about Cleveland!

He could be talking about any number of things, but at the end of each of those roads is the specter of James’ exit. That's the storm on the horizon. In all likelihood, that is affecting other things that have put the Cavaliers in such a peculiar position. Consider the Chauncey Billups debacle. Does Billups turn down the job if James is committed long-term?

Every time a new rumor or smoke signal pops up about James leaving, I recall the infamous "I'm Coming Home" piece from 2014. I remember this quote specifically: "I feel my calling here goes above basketball." As mad as James might be about Gilbert's unwillingness to pay David Griffin, and how that may have affected Cleveland's ability to land a star in the wild 2017 summer, his return to the Cavaliers is about more than basketball, in his words.

If he decamps for L.A. or San Antonio in a year, that is proved to be B.S. I don't think it was B.S. I don't think things in Cleveland are so bad that he's willing to say goodbye to northeast Ohio again. In a way, and perhaps even more so after the championship, basketball is James’ job. His work is much more important.

This is why I greet every new rumor with skepticism. Has James’ real mission changed? Until it has, or until we find out he was full of it, he's not leaving.

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