LOS ANGELES — While it's been more than four years since LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Los Angeles Lakers, the four-time NBA MVP has never been shy to weigh in on his former team.
And oftentimes, it creates headlines.
As was the case this past February when James discussed the state of the Cavs with Jason Lloyd of The Athletic during the NBA All-Star Weekend in Cleveland. Asked about his former franchise following the Cavs' 114-100 victory over his Lakers on Sunday, the four-time NBA champion was quick to note the attention he received for not ruling out a potential return to Cleveland when speaking with Lloyd.
"I got in trouble last time for just giving an honest opinion," James told reporters with a smile on Sunday. "I got in trouble for that."
That, however, didn't stop the Akron, Ohio, native from sharing his thoughts on the current Cavs.
"I don't care, so I'll give another opinion," he said.
When it comes to Cleveland, James was quick to praise the Cavs' acquisition of three-time All-Star Donovan Mitchell in a blockbuster trade with the Utah Jazz. He also noted the success that Cleveland found last season, before faltering down the stretch and losing to the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks in the NBA Play-In Tournament.
"Listen, they did a great job in the offseason of picking up a big-time player. Obviously, between them and [the] New York [Knicks], a lot of people were just looking to see who was going to get [the trade] done," James said. "I think we saw last year what team they could become. And obviously, with Evan [Mobley]'s injury and Darius [Garland]'s injury, they ended up slipping towards the end and having to play in the Play-In and we know what happened with that."
The 18-time All-Star didn't stop there, as he continued to praise the makeup of Cleveland's roster and coaching staff. It wasn't all compliments, however, as James also managed to sneak in a playful dig at his former teammate, 34-year-old Kevin Love.
"They have a really good team and a great coach and a bunch of kids on their team that just seem like they want to play ball," he said. "I'm looking at their roster and you don't really see too many guys all over social media showing off they got this and showing off they got that. Seems like a bunch of guys that just like coming to work and wanting to play ball. And that's definitely probably a joy for a coach and coaching staff like that. Just knowing you have a bunch of kids that just want to come in and play ball and then a grandpa who looks over everybody in Kevin Love. I mean, that's great."
As for a potential third stint in Cleveland, it's worth noting that James recently signed a two-year extension with the Lakers. But with his new deal also including a player option for the second season, he'll have the ability to become a free agent in 2024 -- which also happens to be the first year his son, Bronny James, is expected to be eligible for the NBA Draft.