I’m a Cleveland guy. I grew up there and have cheered for the Cavs since the days of World B. Free. I celebrated through the years of Price, Daugherty andNance and cursed through the years of Shawn Kemp and Bobby Sura. So you can imagine the anxiety and concern that we are all going through with the circus that has become the Lebron James free agency. It should have never come to this. The very fact that it has is about the only proof I need that Lebron James days in a Cavalier uniform are over. Here’s how I see it:
Lebron quit in the playoffs. I know, I know…”he was hurt”. Kobe’s been playing with a bad finger and knee since the middle of the season. Bynum is getting his knee drained after just about every game and has a partially torn ligament. Say what you want, but Lebron quit his team and thus took 70% of the offensive scheme and scoring with him. He quit when it really mattered. For a guy that “just wants to win”, he didn’t try very hard to do so.
The aftermath of the playoff early exit has been this. The Coach and GM are both gone. The attempts to reach a front line coaching candidate have failed. A full court press on a big named college coach fell short yesterday when Tom Izzo announced he was staying at Michigan State. While the team awaits communication from Lebron, their search for a coach will too. No one in their right mind would take over the wheel of this team without knowing it had an engine to make it run.
Earlier this week, I read where Dwayne Wade said he wanted to stay in Miami and “bring someone else with him”. Wade is no dummy. He understands that he is giving his team the communication it needs to pursue “winning”. Without closing out all free agent options, he is telling his team that this is where I want to be…now make it happen. His team can do a lot with that and can set their sites on the other free agent it will add to make his team better.
Lebron’s silence is speaking volumes. I believe Lebron is a smart guy. He has made some very clever business decisions in his quest to become the highest paid player ever. He partners with very wise financial people regularly. He has to know that not commenting or giving the Cavaliers direction on what his wishes are beyond “winning” is holding them over a barrel. Coaches wont come here. Players won’t sign here. Trades will be de-valued because other teams know the Cavs might be desperate. Danny Ferry saw that handwriting all over the wall too. That’s why he said bye-bye.
If I were GM of the Cavaliers, I would start making plans as if Lebron was already gone. They still have pieces that can be moved and dollars available. I would start building a plan to create the best team possible with or without Lebron. In doing so they are protecting themselves against what is sure to happen and showing Lebron that they are committed to the only thing he has said was important to him….”winning”.
If Lebron has an ounce of character left should he decide to leave, he will do so under a sign and trade. It would give Cleveland something in return for all that they have given him since he came into the league. If that doesn’t happen, the Cavaliers will enter the same rebuilding cycle that the Indians and Browns have been in forever. I could be completely wrong, but I believe Lebron is long gone and the Cavaliers will never be the same again.
I hope I am wrong….I really do.