Los Angeles Lakers fans may be caught off guard by this. If Brian Windhorst is right, however, then LeBron James may leave the Lakers next year and rejoin the Cleveland Cavaliers.

That's not a certainty or even a probability. Right now, it's really more of a conspiracy theory.

But admittedly, an interesting one, especially coming from someone like Windhorst.

Take note that LeBron is only under contract with the Los Angeles Lakers until next season. That means that by mid-2023 the King could be headed elsewhere, with a return to the Cavs not unlikely.

It all hinges on whether the Lakers can successfully sign LeBron to an extension this summer. If you're LeBron, however, would you want to do that with a team that seems to be floundering just two years removed from winning an NBA title?

If the Lakers are unable to sign LeBron on an extension, then according to Windhorst, the Cavs could be among the frontrunners to acquire LeBron's services once more.

“This is something that no one is talking about but is obviously a big thing that could impact next season,” Windhorst said. “If he doesn’t extend … he plays out the year with the Lakers and tries to make the best of it, and we start counting the Cleveland Cavaliers’ cap space.”

Now, is there really something there, or is it smoke and mirrors?

It would be easy to imagine LeBron going full circle and returning to Cleveland one more time to finish his storied career. Earlier this year, even LeBron himself said it would be possible to do so.

“The door’s not closed on that,” LeBron said this past February to Jason Lloyd of The Athletic. “I’m not saying I’m coming back and playing, I don’t know. I don’t know what my future holds. I don’t even know when I’m free.”

If he does return to northeast Ohio, he'd be going back to a team on the rise.

Remember that the Cavs had a huge turnaround this past season, winning 44 games. They do have an exciting youth movement anchored on Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, and Evan Mobley. Add LeBron James to that mix (and maybe his son Bronny soon?), and that Cavs squad could possibly make a serious run at contending. That's in stark contrast to the current state of the Los Angeles Lakers, who just seem rudderless at sea.