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Here’s some “LeBron could return to Cleveland” speculation for you

Dec 24, 2012, 11:37 AM EDT

LeBron James Cavaliers Getty Images

LeBron James can opt out of his contract with the Miami Heat in the summer of 2014.

He likely will do that just to sign another max extension for five years with the Heat. It’s a long shot he leaves South Beach… so you’re telling me there’s a chance? The fact that that the best player in the game today has the possibility of being on the move has teams and fans dreaming like they did when he was a free agent a couple years ago.

So, how about a “he will come back to Cleveland” dream?

That’s what Jason Lloyd of the Beacon-Journal talked about in a column looking at the Cavaliers long-term rebuilding plans.

And yes, believe it or not, he will give Cleveland a close look. He has a relationship with (Kyrie) Irving and (Tristan) Thompson. His new agent, Rich Paul, is a local guy who has long been a close friend. Paul also represents Thompson. A number of pieces are aligning, but the biggest draw is missing.

The Cavs realistically must be a playoff team for James to consider them. He will turn 30 during the 2014-15 season. It’s inconceivable he would return to Cleveland for a rebuilding project. That means the Cavs will at least have to make the playoffs next season for them to be viable contenders in a free-agent market that will surely include the Heat and Los Angeles Lakers.

Playing with Kyrie Irving is a draw. Tristan Thompson… not so much. And there are more complicating factors going back to Cleveland, starting with the whole “they are just not very good” thing.

Personally I doubt LeBron goes anywhere. He will spend the rest of his prime in Miami (maybe the rest of his career).

But you can expect a lot of articles about dreams the next couple years until LeBron inks that new max deal.

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