This has been the summer of LeBron James, leaving the Miami Heat for the Cleveland Cavaliers and engineering a huge trade that landed Kevin Love next to him while getting rid of two number one draft picks in Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins, creating a superstar team with an improved big three ready to win championships right now.
One Finals series changed everything. We’ll never know what would have transpired had the Miami Heat beaten the San Antonio Spurs in the 2014 NBA finals. Would have James left a team he had just led to a three-peat? It doesn’t matter. Instead of this off-season being about Carmelo Anthony choosing a team, James stole his thunder and decided to return “home”, something that won him back a lot of fans he has lost over the last few years for “betrayal”.
But making a splash with his “Decision 2.0” wasn’t enough. James didn’t just improve the Cavaliers by signing for them. He actually made them better by getting others to sign in order to play next to him with the promise of an NBA title as an incentive. Mike Miller, Shawn Marion and James Jones joined via free agency, and James is rumored to be the one who pushed for the Kevin Love trade, preferring an NBA All-Star in his prime than a rookie who might become a great player one day.
Kevin Love has been asking for a trade for quite some time, but the Cavs weren’t on the radar until James went back to Cleveland. The Celtics, Knicks and Lakers were dreaming of 2015, when Love would be a free agent. The Warriors, the Bulls and even the Phoenix Suns tried to pull off a trade for Love. However, the moment James sold Love on Cleveland, all other options and trades just went off the table.
The term Big Three follows James everywhere, and pretty much every other NBA team that puts together two or more All-Stars on one team. Compared to what he had in Miami last season, James should be quite happy. He might be beginning something of a decline, but Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are two of the brightest young stars in the NBA, who are good enough to win now but will good enough for quite a few more years in order for James to lean on them, if he actually stays beyond the two seasons he signed up for.
The Philadelphia 76ers got themselves more assets and more future, sacrificing the now. The Minnesota Timberwolves actually came out OK from the departure of their best player, not breaking up a decent team and setting themselves up pretty nicely for the next few years. But those are just aftershocks and fringe effects of the big trade, that is mostly about partnering LeBron James with other star players as he tries to win a third NBA championship for himself and a first for Cleveland.