King James is angry, disappointed, and blindsided by the front office, Uncle Drew, and the continuous fading of his hairline. All are justifiable. Majority believed Cleveland would rule the Eastern Conference until LeBron’s retirement. Now, everything isn’t so certain and the future looks more bleak than clear.
With rumors of LeBron to the LA Lakers growing by the day, Kyrie demanding a trade, and Cleveland’s front office in the midst of beyond repair. I could write a whole book on why LeBron will leave Cleveland, but I’ll keep it short with just 5 reasons. In summary, the reasons include the Kyrie Irving situation, the front office situation, the gap between the Warriors situation, the recruitment process situation, and this offseason situation.
Here are 5 reasons why LeBron is headed for the exits and Cleveland is headed for the lottery.
Kyrie Irving Situation
In this last week, we have gotten the full reveal on why Kyrie wants out of Cleveland. Irving wants to be the focal point of an offense. Irving doesn’t enjoy being the Robin to LeBron’s Batman anymore. According to Adam Wells of Bleacher Report, Kyrie Irving asked the team to trade him in their latest meeting. According to Chris Haynes of ESPN, the Cavaliers are “disturbed’ that his requested trade was made public, as it may drop his return value. This meaning whoever comes back to Cleveland in the event of a trade will likely have less value than Kyrie. The Cav’s will lose their second best player and arguably the best iso-scorer in the league for less value.
To make matters far worse, Kyrie never informed LeBron of his intention to leave. According to Tim Daniels of Bleacher Report, LeBron was “blindsided and disappointed” by Kyrie’s demanded trade. Losing a player of Kyrie’s caliber this off-season could forewarn an eventual break-up of the Cavs big three by 2018 with LeBron entering free agency and all. The peculiarity of Cleveland’s situation as a whole doesn’t bold well if both of them stay on the roster because it could threaten the on-court chemistry needed to even make the finals.
The Front Office Situation
In this free agency alone, Cleveland’s front office missed out on a Paul George trade, missed out on a Jimmy Butler trade, made no big moves, fired David Griffin, and scared off Chauncey Billups for the GM spot. Any notable move would’ve helped keep King James happy and content in Cleveland. LeBron’s value to Cleveland cannot be overstated. They are 4-21 in 25 games without LeBron since his return in the 2014-15 season. Further proving him to be the unquestioned backbone of their team.
Keeping him in good morale should be top priority. In less than one month of free agency, the disorganization of Cleveland’s front office is approaching New York Knicks level. Ok, maybe I’m overreacting, but then again, maybe not so much. The way things are projecting, Cleveland’s best player could be Kevin Love by 2018. Ask Minnesota how that worked out. Kyrie’s exit is an inevitable as a 3 am Donald Trump tweet at this point. You know it’s coming and many will be disappointed. LeBron’s chances of heading elsewhere in 2018 are growing by the day. The gap between Cleveland and the rest of the east is lessening while the gap between Cleveland and Golden State is growing.
The Gap Situation
About that gap between the Warriors and the Cavaliers, you know the one that is solar system sized. Yeah, that one. Well, it is continuing to grow. Continuing to grow fast. Let’s summarize each of the team's offseason acquisitions. The Cavaliers essentially stayed the same only added more one-way players in Jose Calderon and Jeff Green. They also added an unproven player in Cedi Osman, who could take years of development to even be a solid rotational player. Just like with many European prospects, the learning curve is steep. The competition of the NBA is deeper.
According to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, LeBron James is both “frustrated and concerned” over his team’s lack of upgrades this offseason. Most of it having to do with the fact that Cleveland is swimming in the luxury tax right now and has the 2nd highest payroll in the league, with the Portland Trailblazers being the only team with a worse cap situation. LeBron’s buddies Tristan Thompson and JR Smith got paid and criticism is now all that is displayed from Cleveland fans towards their front office.
Meanwhile, the defending NBA Champions in the Golden State Warriors got deeper and threaten to run away with the Championship again next year. They retained most of their squad by re-signing Shaun Livingston, Andre Iguodala, Zaza Pachulia, and added two of the league's most underrated shooters to further deepen their super team in Nick Young and Omri Casspi. With Cleveland, it's a case of what have you done for me lately?
The Recruitment Process Situation
If LeBron were to stay in Cleveland, he’d have a tough haul in recruiting stars to play alongside him. Mainly, because of the lack of cap space in the Land and the fact that the reputation of Cleveland’s team is negatively impacting other players motivation to go there. For instance, latest reports coming from Tarek Fettal of Los Angeles Daily News who tweeted out on July 22nd “Very solid source close to HOU tells me that Carmelo Anthony is likely to be a Rocket by early this coming week. Stay tuned.”
Carmelo Anthony seems to be headed to Houston instead of Cleveland if these sources are as accurate as they appear to be. Cleveland’s hope was to try to gain Carmelo Anthony in any return back from Kyrie Irving, but it seems that Melo is ready to team up with James Harden and Chris Paul out in H-Town.
Elsewhere, on a team like the LA Lakers, LeBron would have the freedom and major cap-space at his hands to assemble a super team. The Lakers will have enough cap-space to offer up to three max contracts. In a loaded 2018 free agency class that includes the likes of DeMarcus Cousins, Paul George, Russell Westbrook, Isaiah Thomas, and of course the King himself, anything can happen. With no added barriers or restrictions, LeBron could assemble his death lineup to beat Golden State and win another ring or 2 before retirement. Imagine a lineup of Lonzo Ball, Paul George, Brandon Ingram, LeBron James, and DeMarcus Cousins. KD is already peeing his pants in terror, probably.
This Offseason Situation
LeBron can only be driven to the brink of insanity so many times before he turns around and leaves. Who can blame him? Cleveland did nothing of notable acquisition this summer. Meanwhile, Golden State is ready to gut punch LeBron again and again, if the Cavs even make the finals. Think about it, Cleveland didn’t necessarily get better. Well, the east may have lost star power, there are still 5 other legit teams that retained their core players.
The chemistry between the Celtics, Raptors, Wizards, Bucks and the Heat will only grow as Cleveland threatens to self-implode from the inside. It’s only the matter of time, Cleveland is putting off the inevitable. Kyrie is leaving, LeBron is leaving, and some of their fans will too. Once the king leaves, the land falls.