Build It They Will Come
LeBron James is coming off his seventh straight Finals appearance three with the Cleveland Cavaliers since returning to the Land in 2015. Cleveland did an outstanding job with setting up their future they were so bad during the years James was in South Beach collecting rings with the guy who runs Miami (Pat Riley). They were able to win the draft lottery three separate times and acquired Kyrie Irving in 2011, Anthony Bennett in 2013, then selected Andrew Wiggins in 2014.
After 4 seasons with the Miami Heat winning two championships before losing 4-1 his final year against the San Antonio Spurs in the 2014 Finals, it was time for James to return back home. He had good young talent waiting for him in Cleveland they just needed a leader to show them how to win. His first business of order returning was to get Minnesota Timberwolves Power Forward Kevin Love, before Wiggins even played in a preseason game with Cleveland he was shipped to Minnesota with Anthony Bennett, & Thaddeus Young for Kevin Love.
LeBron led Cleveland to the Finals his first year with their big 3 but lost Love for the rest of the postseason in Game 4 of the opening round against Boston. Then Kyrie Irving went down during the Finals in Game 1. They ultimately lost the series 4-2 to the Golden State Warriors but they knew what they could do with all their horses healthy. 2016 Finals rematch, this time Cleveland had everyone healthy they were ready, but they fell behind in the series 3-1 everyone including myself deemed the series over. LeBron James single-handedly snatched everything from Steph Curry and company, Cleveland rattled off 3 straight wins to capture the Larry O’Brien Trophy arguably giving them the best comeback in sports history.
Late January the Cavs suffered their fifth loss in seven games, this time to the New Orleans Pelicans who were without Anthony Davis. LeBron sounded off-putting everyone on notice following the game “I just hope we’re not satisfied as an organization” James conveyed “we’re not better than last year, from a personnel standpoint.” After winning the Finals, Cleveland didn’t resign Timofey Mozgov or crowd favorite Matthew Dellavedova they added rookie point guard Kay Felder, plus Mike Dunleavy (who got traded for Kyle Korver.)
“It’s great to have bodies,” James explained. “Obviously, in the playoffs, you go down to what, eight max? And if somebody gets in foul trouble, you go to nine. You’re not playing back-to-backs. You have two days in between. You’re able to lock in.”
NBA teams are playing back to backs plus sometimes four games in five nights. Not to mention getting on an airplane in the middle of the night flying across different time zones not getting into your hotel room until the wee hours of the morning. It’s very taxing also it takes a toll on the body.
“It’s like when you don’t have bodies. It’s tough,” James expressed. “The f—ing grind of the regular season. We’re a top-heavy team. We have a top-heavy team. We top-heavy as s—. It’s me, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love. It’s top-heavy.”
“We need a f—ing playmaker,” James uttered. “I’m not saying you can just go find one, like you can go outside and see trees. I didn’t say that.” “We got to figure it out,” he said. “It’s been a s—ty 2017 so far.”
When the best player in the world makes a statement like that you listen, his frustrations boiled over due to Cleveland losing games, poor defense, injury to J.R. Smith that sidelined him for majority of the season, & veteran point guard Mo Williams not coming to camp. At the time Cleveland GM David Griffin started making roster moves for the ball club, they acquired point guard Deron Williams off waivers from the Dallas Mavericks hoping they would get the Williams from his Brooklyn Nets days that didn’t happen. Then they signed wing man Derrick Williams who they thought would provide them quality minutes coming off the bench, solid defense, along with someone who could shoot the three ball he just didn’t get enough playing time. One of the two last moves the Cavs made was signing big man Andrew Bogut who was traded from Dallas to Philadelphia but agreed with the Sixers to part ways.
The Cavs weren’t worried about the East at all, they knew they’d meet Golden State in the Finals they had hopes of exploiting the Warriors knowing they were weak inside. Unfortunately for Cleveland and Bogut his tenure was cut short 58 seconds into his debut he broke his fibula, just like that he was done for the year. To replace Andrew Bogut the Cavs reached out and signed Larry Sanders a young center who was up on the rise before having to take a two-year hiatus because of personal issues. The Sanders project didn’t work out forcing the Cavaliers to waive him.
After all the moves GM David Griffin did post LeBron rant, James was asked if he expected Griffin to be back due to his expiring contract “It makes no sense why he shouldn’t get an extension,” James lobbied to reporters. James continues “He’s pulled every move—he’s tried to make every move happen—to better this team to be able to compete for a championship. So we wouldn’t be in this position, obviously, without him and without the guys that are here—from the coaching staff to the players to Griff. He’s been a big piece of it.”
After the Cleveland Cavaliers were virtually swept out the 2017 NBA Finals by the Golden State Warriors in the Trilogy. The Cavs had a lot of reflecting to do, LeBron was sensational averaging a triple double for the series practically playing every minute. Kyrie Irving struggled at times but had games where the real Kyrie showed up most notably Game 4 when Irving dropped 40. It was the others that were concerns, Kevin Love was exposed defensively and never really showed up at all. J.R. Smith didn’t start playing basketball until the close out game where he scored 26 points but combined in the first 3 games for 19 points. Channing Fry didn’t get much minutes. Then the 82 million dollar man Tristan Thompson was under/still is trapped by the Kardashian curse.
Performances by these players showed LeBron that Cleveland needed another super star if they wanted to compete with these Warriors. The Cavs have been linked to Paul George (Before the Oklahoma City Thunder Trade), Carmelo Anthony, and Dwayne Wade. The problem for Cleveland is that they are so much over the salary cap they virtually can’t sign a big name free agent. A deal for Carmelo Anthony or Dwayne Wade in a Cavs uniform would have to come via buyout. I can’t see Carmelo Anthony waving his no trade clause now from the New York Knicks since Phil Jackson is gone, also Melo is dealing with family and personal issues he’s trying to workout. Bulls Guard Dwayne Wade has 24 plus million reasons to stay put in Chicago but maybe he can be bought out if the franchise wants to go in a different direction as the season unravels.
I’m pretty sure this isn’t the last time you’ll be hearing this but don’t count out Los Angeles as a possible destination for LeBron. The Lakers, not the Clippers there’s no way in hell LeBron is considering playing for the Clippers for two different reasons. 1. The Clippers just got rid of a huge attraction for LeBron his best friend Chris Paul, James has been quoted over the years saying he’d love to play with his close friends Paul being one but he’s in Houston now. So that’s out the equation, 2. You remember when the Clippers had that owner by the name of Donald Sterling? I don’t want to even get into his asinine comments, even though he’s banned for life from the NBA his name will always be linked to the team.
If there’s anyone in position to bring show time back it’s LeBron James, the Lakers have good young pieces in place Brandon Ingram is showing promise and if Lonzo Ball turns out to be as good as Lavar Ball says they’ll be fun to watch. Paul George could potentially return back home to L.A. as a free agent in 2018 if things don’t work out in OKC. George has been on record saying that he would love to be a Laker, still not convinced LeBron will come? Just be patience, James has expressed that one day he would like to be an NBA owner with an addition to that, one of his favorite players of all time was Magic Johnson. Johnson, who’s in the Lakers front office would be the perfect person for LeBron to follow and see how things are conducted. Not to mention James childhood friends, sports agent, business partner Maverick Carter and Rich Paul both have houses out in the Hollywood Hills area of California. Klutch Sports Agency that James is signed too that’s founded by Rich Paul moved their headquarters out to Los Angeles. Before the NBA Finals started James 21 million dollar L.A. home that he purchased was in the news for a cowardly act done by someone, although most athletes love to spend their off-seasons in California for a variety of reasons, most just rent out houses they don’t buy them straight out.
Unlike the move from Cleveland to Miami that was strictly about understanding how to build a winning culture while getting rings. LeBron came back with a promising goal, he fulfilled his promise to the City of Cleveland he said he was going to bring a title to the Land and he did. He virtually doesn’t owe the Cavs anything. Now the move from Cleveland to Los Angeles won’t be about basketball or winning, if you’re wondering why would he go to the West where the Warriors are? At this point in his career the King has done it all he has 3 NBA Championships, named Finals MVP, multiple MVP trophies, been on multiple All NBA First Teams, countless records that he’s broke, and records that he’s chasing. He’s going to be on Mount Rushmore, he’s going to be a First Ballot Hall of Famer, there’s nothing more James can do to solidify his legacy it’s already written in stone. The only way to open this discussion back up is by him winning another ring then we’ll say how close can he get to Michael Jordan with winning titles?
The move for James will be about his off the court in devours he will be 33 at the end of the year, he doesn’t have much time left to play this game. Every athlete knows at some point you have to start planning for life after the game. L.A. is the perfect place to do all the things James loves to do when he’s not playing ball. Movies, he has his own media company on the lot of Warner Bros Studio in Los Angeles plus he has starred in a couple of films. Music, friends in the game such as Drake, Kendrick Lamar reside on the West Coast most notably one of his closest friends, Mogul Jay-Z has a house and multiple businesses in L.A. Hov is the same one that convinced Kevin Durant to sign with the Warriors to expand his brand. Fashion, LeBron is easily one of the best dressed players in the league besides NY where else could he go to take part in this? Lastly the brand of LeBron James, it’s already big & world-wide but Cleveland compared to Los Angeles the markets are on two totally different economic and lifestyle depths, LeBron James in the California market would double maybe even triple the sales of a Cleveland market.
It’s Your World
As long as Dan Gilbert remains the Cavaliers Owner he & LeBrons relationships will always be rocky, due to the way Gilbert handled things the first time he departed.If I’m Gilbert I’m consulting with James about every free agent player he would like, plus changes he wants to the roster. Gilbert isn’t off to a good start, he didn’t give former GM Dave Griffin a contract extension, James wasn’t notified or consulted about the decision he found out like everyone else. This prompted James to voice his feelings about Griffin and the move via Twitter. The Cavs have been interviewing former champion and Hall of Famer Chauncey Billups for the position over the past week. All that is good but they need someone in that role ASAP someone who is going to make roster moves that please James. Next the Cavalier Owner was seen at the White House Celebration with the Chicago Cubs celebrating their World Series win with President Trump who James openly campaigned against.
This isn’t a good look for the Cavaliers or the owner. So Gilbert can continue to mess around with house money by not putting the necessary pieces around to keep LeBron James but the King has shown his hand before by taking his talents else where, this time it’d be much easier for him to leave the organization that he calls home.