Channing Frye has 1 wish for LeBron James in retirement year

Tony Nguyen | Los Angeles Lakers
May 14, 2024

Before taking up a second career as a studio analyst for Turner Sports and NBA TV, Channing Frye had a successful thirteen-year run in the NBA, which peaked in 2016 when Frye earned what has alluded many, many great former players… an NBA Championship Ring. As a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Frye was a staple in the 2015-16 Cavaliers’ regular season rotation before seeing his minutes cut substantially throughout Cleveland’s postseason run. But even still, alongside Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and a fella by the name of LeBron James, Frye earned the right to leave his fingerprints on the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Because Channing Frye had a front row seat to watch as LeBron James delivered on his promise to bring an NBA Title to Cleveland, it’s easy to understand why Frye, like many fans of both the Cavaliers and LeBron James himself, hope to get the opportunity to see The King don the Wine and Gold one more time before his long and illustrious career wraps up. And because LeBron James, along with his wife Savannah James and his agent Rich Paul, was seated in the front row for the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 2nd Round game against the Boston Celtics, the conversation predictably shifted away from the game and toward the possibility of LeBron making one more return home before he calls it a career.

As expected, LeBron James received an adoring welcome from the 19,000+ who were in attendance and had witnessed the greatness of LeBron during the eleven years he spent playing in The Land. And surely, nearly all 19,000+ who were packed inside of Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on Monday night would be overjoyed to be able to watch LeBron James as a Cavalier for one more run.


LeBron James holding the Larry O'Brien Trophy after the 2016 NBA Finals

Could LeBron come home again? 

The short answer to that question is Yes, LeBron James could absolutely decide to come home and play for the Cleveland Cavaliers again. And he could do so as soon as the beginning of July, when free agency begins. 

The longer answer is slightly more complex, simply because there are so many variables in play.

In the most straight-forward scenario — if coming back to Cleveland and making a run at one more title were LeBron’s #1 priority this summer — he could sign a deal well below the max and join a Cavaliers team that has won 99 games over the last two seasons. Adding LeBron to this existing core of the Cavaliers would immediately make Cleveland among the legitimate favorites in the Eastern Conference, even as they’re about to get bounced out of the 2nd Round in five games against the Boston Celtics.

Although the Cavs only own the #20 pick in the 2024 NBA Draft, they could easily trade into the 2nd Round and select LeBron’s son, Bronny James, in order to sweeten the deal even more. But that scenario remains unlikely for two reasons: NBA scouts aren’t necessarily sold on Bronny James’ pro potential, plus, LeBron James shouldn’t have to and likely wouldn’t take a substantial pay-cut no matter where he goes, even if it meant playing with his son in Northeast Ohio.

Of course, there is the possibility that a sign-and-trade could be worked out, which gives LeBron James the opportunity to sign one more max deal while also affording the Lakers the opportunity to recoup some assets when LeBron decides to leave. But with Donovan Mitchell’s potential Cleveland exit looming, the notion of the Cavs making the necessary moves to put themselves in position to bring LeBron James home again feels like a pipe dream more than it does a likely outcome. The unfortunately reality is that it’s overwhelmingly likely LeBron will remain a Laker for the foreseeable future and probably even end his career in LA.

But if LeBron James taught the people of Cleveland anything, it’s that it’s okay to believe. It’s okay to have hope. So Cleveland, keeping on believing that LeBron James will return to The Land for one last ride. Channing Frye and I will be right there with you with our fingers crossed.