Not out of nowhere, but quite surprising to see the Cleveland Cavaliers suddenly becoming the front-runners to land LeBron James. It’s going to take at least one trade to shed cap space and maybe adding another free agent, but the biggest name in free agency keeps making it difficult to judge what his true intentions are.
The Cavs feel that the blend of talent and prospects on their teams makes them the best option for James. Kyrie Irving is signed for five more seasons after penning an extension not too long ago. Andrew Wiggins, the number one selection in this draft, is theirs for the next five seasons as well. There’s stability and options to grow, with potentially having three first round draft picks next season (conditional from Miami, conditional from Memphis).
The Cavs do need to make a move in order to free up cap space. The most likely name to be moved is Dion Waiters. Even though the talented shooting guard was listed to be a building block for the future as far as the Cavs are concerned, someone is going to be moved, and it seems like Irving, Tristan Thompson (who is also good friends with Irving) and Anderson Varejao are untouchables at the moment.
They’re also trying to move Jarrett Jack and his $6.3 million salary, but Jack isn’t exactly a young and promising player. He’s a solid backup plenty of teams, especially the Brooklyn Nets, are interested in, but moving him might become a three-team deal which obviously complicates things. James wants a max contract, which means $20.7 million next season, and that isn’t happening without someone moving via trade.
There’s also the question of James and owner Dan Gilbert. Gilbert didn’t exactly take James’ departure in 2010 via the decision lightly, and hasn’t been exactly supportive of James since. Obviously, James doesn’t feel love for Gilbert after his character being attacked again and again by the Cavs’ owner, but some years have passed, and maybe there are no resonating feelings that can stop this deal from happening.
This is a chance for some amazing “redemption” for those who feel James actually needs it. His departure from Cleveland is a betrayal in the eyes of many even though this is pro sports we’re talking about, and a return to try and win a championship with Cleveland might become an incredible story line of a son returning home, but not really. What is certain? That James is pretty much holding up all big deals for almost half the league, afraid to make any move before he makes a decision about the team he plays for next.