The Cleveland Cavaliers keep losing, and LeBron James isn’t playing because of a knee problem. That isn’t helping quiet the rumors of his impending departure, and the video of his talk with Dwayne Wade hurting even more. And then there’s the whole David Blatt issue, which might be part of the deciding factors for James when he decides if he wants to stay or leave the Cavs after this season.
What? Yes. LeBron James can opt out of his two year deal. James’ two-year deal takes him right before the new negotiations between the league and the players and with more money coming in, it’s reasonable to believe he and others will want to maximize their earning ability granted the opportunity. But what about James saying he’s here for good? His words with Dwyane Wade in Miami after the Christmas game are more than concerning for Cavaliers fans. (Interesting part starts at 2:43)
The response from James didn’t take long to happen. The minute this became a thing through reddit and then some national writers picked it up, the storm around James’ future with the Cavs simply got a whole more turbulent and interesting. The talk of James not being happy with Blatt has been flying around for quite some time. James giving a weird answer to a question about the coach didn’t help Blatt feel more secure about his job. The losses? You can figure out for yourself if that’s helping or not.
James didn’t say anything surprising. Just mentions that people are reading into it the wrong way, and that his talk with Wade has nothing to do with basketball. But all the warning and worrying signs are there. The Cavaliers, with and without him, and now also without Kevin Love, are a mess. David Blatt was hired before James came along, and maybe he isn’t exactly the best fit for the star player who pretty much built half this team.
The Kevin Love trade, which meant giving up on Andrew Wiggins (and more) was done for him and by him. The signings of James Jones and Mike Miller, not exactly players who have been producing consistently, were done by James pulling the threads. Maybe, just maybe, James would have liked to have his say on who is the head coach. But then, James came after Blatt had signed. If he had worries about a rookie head coach in the NBA, he had other teams to go to.
The Cavaliers have lost three in a row, this time by 16 points to the Bucks. Adding James and Love means there’s no depth to this team whatsoever, more so with Anderson Varejao injured, out for the season. James says he’s resting an aching knee that’s been bothering him all season, and that his long career is taking its toll on him, despite being just 30. He might have said and will say that he’s here for the long run, but it’s more than reasonable to think that there might be another agenda for James to follow.
Just think of the consequences: The Cavaliers gave up their future for James and Kevin Love. But both players can leave after this season is over. They signed a rookie head coach to a three year contract with an option for a fourth season worth $20 million. Erik Spoelstra was in a similar situation four years ago and survived to do some great things. You never really know how much of what the media is saying happens to be true until it actually happens (or doesn’t). But there’s more than just smoke in this case.