The speculation is fun, little more than a 21st century parlor game to distract us until the World Cup is over and NFL training camps open.
Is LeBron James really going back to the Cleveland Cavaliers?
We have no idea, of course, but here's one opinion: He should.
If LeBron, now nearly 30, wants to be loved, there's no place that will ever love him more than his hometown. He grew up in Akron, just south of Cleveland. He still owns a home there, spends summers there and holds his charity bike ride there.
When he left the Cavaliers four years ago, the parting couldn't have been more bitter. Jilted fans burned his jersey and owner Dan Gilbert posted a taunting letter on the team web site. The passion on both sides was fierce and remarkable.
But that means nothing now. Gilbert's letter is gone from the web site, taken down just this week – which seems about three years too late – but whatever the case, it's gone now. All seems to be forgiven.
Northeast Ohio sports fans, some of the most loyal in the nation, almost certainly can't wait to welcome their prodigal son. The same probably goes for Gilbert, should all the decimal points align. Why would four-year-old pettiness cause any trouble now? How many times did George Steinbrenner hire Billy Martin?
Can you imagine, LeBron back in Cleveland? First Johnny Manziel gets drafted by the Browns. Then the city lands the 2016 Republican national convention. And next, perhaps, LeBron.
When did Cleveland become L.A.?
Hope springs eternal after the Cavaliers made a trade Wednesday to clear enough salary cap space to potentially offer James a huge deal and bring him back to the team where he spent the first seven years of his NBA career before going to Miami for the past four seasons.
Still, the sting of 2010 remains very real to many Ohioans. Usually people are about four decades older than LeBron was when they move from Ohio to Florida. Losing LeBron was just another punch to the gut of the good people of the Rust Belt. First LeBron, then more electoral votes. If he returns, the symbolism is enormous.
If LeBron does indeed come back, he returns as a very different player than when he left. When he played for Cleveland at the beginning of his career, LeBron was expected to bring home a championship. As the years went by and that didn't happen, the expectation became a burden. It understandably gnawed at him, and it ate at the fans. Pressure built. How could it have been a pleasant time?
Were LeBron to come home now, it would be quite a change from the first time around. He took the Miami Heat to the NBA Finals four times, and won two championships. Analysis of LeBron and his Miami teammates and what it all meant could fill a few encyclopedias, but, simply put, if he returns to Cleveland now, he comes back a proven champion.
To be sure, there would be pressure to bring the success he had in Miami to Cleveland. But he would have different teammates. And he would have time. As an Ohioan myself, I can assure you that there's nothing we like more than proving that you can go home again.