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No, LeBron won’t come back to Miami

His postgame comments likely reflected his frustration with the Lakers.

Miami Heat v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

After finishing last season with an embarrassing 33-49 record, the Los Angeles Lakers are 14-21 now. LeBron James, who turned 38 years old today, is still there. But Anthony Davis is hurt. (Remember when people said he, not Dwyane Wade, was LeBron’s best teammate?) The Lakers didn’t trade Russell Westbrook over the summer.

And James had some words after Miami’s Dec. 28 win over the Lakers.

Some have speculated that a reunion is in the cards for the four-time NBA champion. At another point in his postgame interview, James used the phrase “keep the main thing the main thing,” which he learned from Riley.

Back in June 2021, the NBA fined Pat Riley $25,000 for saying that he’d leave a “key under the doormat” for James. It should be noted that Riley added, “I would do that, but I doubt that key ... that key is rusted now.” (The question arose because the Heat placed an ad saying “We’ll leave a key under the mat for you” in three South Florida newspapers after Wade left for the Chicago Bulls in 2016. And then after a year-and-a-half, Wade returned to the Heat.)

Allow me to throw cold water on this pipe dream.

James’ comments after the game might’ve reflected nostalgia for his time with the Heat. But more likely, he made those comments to nudge the Lakers to trade an extra first-round pick. He may lament that a chance to trade for Kyrie Irving has come and gone. The Brooklyn Nets’ 10-game win streak has launched them into the East’s second seed.

And of course, James gave up some leverage when he signed an extension with the Lakers just a few months ago. Moreover, James reportedly preferred a trade for Westbrook over one for Buddy Hield.

With Miami from 2010-14 and the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2014-18, James rode the franchise until the win-now moves those teams made — trading draft picks, signing old veterans instead of developing young talent — caught up with them. But James has given more leeway to the Lakers, who have done worse building jobs than either Riley or David Griffin did.

Since he just signed an extension in August 2022, James cannot be traded this season. From then, we’ll see what happens before his son joins the NBA. But I agree with Riley. I doubt James would come back to the Heat.