Daily Herald
Loss to Celtics could hasten James' departure from Cleveland
By Mike McGraw | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 5/12/2010 8:23 PM

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Here are two potential explanations for LeBron James' miserable performance in Cleveland's stunning 120-88 home loss to Boston on Tuesday.

1. He needs surgery on his injured right elbow, which could be in worse shape than has been revealed.

2. He's struggling with the fact that he plans to leave Cleveland this summer as a free agent.

Either possibility could make sense. James hit just 3 of 14 shots for 15 points in the Game 5 loss, conceivably his final game in Cleveland as a member of the Cavaliers. James and the Cavs need to win Thursday in Boston to force a Game 7 back in Ohio.

If the Cavs lose, would it help the Bulls' chances of signing James this summer? Tough to say.

If James does choose to leave, the Bulls and Knicks figure to be his only realistic options and the Bulls offer a much better supporting cast. James isn't going to compete with Dwyane Wade for the ball in Miami or join the Clippers and battle Kobe Bryant for ownership of Los Angeles.

The case against James leaving Cleveland is it's too soon to bail out on his hometown, especially without delivering a championship. If James departs this summer, he'll be an enemy in Cleveland forever.

At age 25, he has plenty of time to contend for a title, but he could get spooked by the Cavaliers' aging roster. Shaquille O'Neal is already 38 and by the start of next season, Anthony Parker and Zydrunas Ilgauskas will be 35, with Antawn Jamison turning 34.

Needless to say, if the Cavaliers suffer a shocking second-round loss in the playoffs, it will make this summer a little more interesting.