On this LeBron 2014 Nonsense

Kinda cracks me up to see Haden post a photoshopped picture of LeBron in a Cavs uniform.

Cracks me up that Haden posted a PHOTOSHOPPED picture of LeBron in a Cavs uniform.

It’s beginning.

LeBron James has an out in his contract during the summer of 2014 and the NBA is abuzz with LeBron’s next decision and whether or not he’ll come back to Cleveland. David Letterman needled him about it. Adrian Wojnarowski’s took the Memphis Grizzlies trading Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors and turned it into a column about LeBron coming back. Every interaction between LeBron and Kyrie Irving  during the All-Star game will be scrutinized to the nth degree.

The greatest basketball player on the planet is a free agent in two summers and his home town franchise, his original team, has a boatload of capspace and 20 year old All-Star.

People are excited.

Even Browns cornerback Joe Haden can’t help himself.

Regardless of how you feel about LeBron James, these rumors aren’t going to go away and they’ll only be increasing. Plus, talking about LeBron allows Cleveland media personalities to discuss the Cavs without actually having to know anything about Cavs basketball. LeBron’s the best player on earth and he’s going to be connected to Cleveland until the day he retires.

We’re stuck with him.

Now, I’m not saying that these rumors are totally 100% true or that Cavs fans should bank on him returning. But if one was inclined to read the tea leaves, there’s enough smoke that one could be reasonably convinced that there’s fire.

LeBron James, Chris Grant

CONSPIRACY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Let’s review the smoke, eh?

In LeBron’s first post-Decision interview, he says this:

“If there was an opportunity for me to return and those fans welcome me back, that’d be a great story.”

You have the “Tristan Thompson and Kyrie Irving are buddies with LeBron” stuff, with my favorites being the “will those horrible, immature Cleveland fans accept someone who doesn’t hate LeBron with all of their soul” stories.

Last season, the one time LeBron came to town, he brought up playing in Cleveland again.

LeBron’s agent, Rich Paul hopes Gilbert and Bron-Bron can patch things up.

The NBA landscape is changing and Jason Lloyd says that that LeBron is a target for the Cavs in 2014.

Brian Windhorst spoke about the LeBron rumors on KNR and believes there’s a chance he comes back, though maybe not in 2014 (Windhorst said similar things on the RealCavsFans.com podcast):

Tony Rizzo: Are you buying LeBron’s possible return to Cleveland?

Brian Windhorst: I’ve always thought LeBron’s coming back to Cleveland. I’m just not saying it’s in 2014. What I will say is, I don’t think that the Heat are gonna stay together in their current form. There’s a lot of different reasons for this. One of is the new CBA, which I’m not gonna get into all the points of it, but it makes it so impossible for the Heat to field a team around these three guys and it makes it so costly. Third thing is, I don’t think Chris Bosh is all that happy there and I think he may be looking for another opportunity. Dwyane Wade is 31 years old and in my opinion is still a great player but is past his prime. So I just don’t think that the Heat are going to remain in this form after 2014. Now maybe the Heat make a trade with Chris Bosh in the next year and do in such a way that entices LeBron to stay. But I think LeBron is going to opt out of his contract and look around at opportunities.

Now the Cavs have a lot of work to do. And they’re in the process of trying to set themselves up here. In my opinion, they need at least one other big time player to be next to Kyrie Irving. That’s what they’re doing right now, they’re assembling these assets. This trade yesterday, getting this draft pick, that’s a key piece.

If you look at what the Houston Rockets did and what the New Jersey, now Brooklyn, Nets did. They spent a couple of years gathering draft picks, assembling assets and trying to make big trades.  The Nets ended up getting Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, now you can debate on whether those were good moves or not, but those were the guys they got. And Houston tried for a year and a half to make a big deal. They thought they had Gasol, they were in the mix on Dwight Howard and they finally make their deal for James Harden. The Cavs need to make that type of trade between now and 2014.

Look at what they’re doing. That’s what they’re gathering their assets to try to pull off. That’s what this trade yesterday was about. Was to get an attractive, potential lottery pick asset. they’re gonna try to do that. and if the Cavs are able to get another player and I think make the playoffs next year is pretty darn important, so that move would have to be made in the next year, before next year’s trade deadline.

You’re sitting there with Kyrie Irving, who in my opinion who has a potential future at- or above- Derrick Rose, he’s better than any player that LeBron ever played with in Cleveland. And if you can get one more player, it doesn’t even have to be an All-NBA type player, it’s just got be a really good running mate. By the way, whether you get LeBron or not, you need to do that just for Kyrie. Forget about the LeBron portion of it. And that’s what the Cavs are working towards. They’re following the path that Houston and New Jersey went down and that’s the way they’re’ going try to get a running mate for Kyrie.

I have no idea what player it’s gonna be. they have no idea what player it’s gonna be. certainly a year a go the Houston rockets didn’t think they were gonna get James harden. the nets had no idea they were getting Deron Williams  you have to see how things play out.

That’s what the Cavs have to do; make it attractive for LeBron to be interested. Here’s the thing: I completely agree that salary cap space is not that valuable at a place like Cleveland, because the Cavs are never getting a top free agent. Except for Lebron. That’s the guy that they can appeal to. And if 2014 comes and they’re able to get another player like Kyrie, or I’m sorry, not like Kyrie, that you can pair with Kyrie and you can have Tristan Thomson there, like said I, he’ll be your fourth best player, you should be attractive to other free agents as well. But your chance at getting a superstar is with LeBron in 2014.

I don’t think that’s gonna determine everything the franchise does, but it’s obviously out there and there’s a whole bunch of different reasons. 2014 is a key year because that’s your last year that you’ll have free agent money before you extend Kyrie and all these things like that. And Tristan and all these things like that. So that’s what the Cavs mandate is and that’s obviously what their road map is and lets see what happens.

Goldhammer: Brian, any update on Dan Gilbert’s relationship with LeBron is. I remember talking to you last year about working out in the facility in the offseason and some other things you brought up. Do you think Dan is continuing to soften on this issue? 

Windhorst: I think time helps everything. Look, there was a lot of feelings hurt on what happened. Obviously, we all know about that. We don’t have to go over it again.  I think LeBron has come forward and said look, he didn’t handle those few weeks the best. I think Dan has said that in certain ways. Everyone knows that happened. There would have to be a mending of fences but look, I don’t think it’s a major stumbling block. I think that relationship can be repaired.

If you look at some things Lebron is doing business wise. He’s changed agents.  His agent just hired another Cleveland guy, Mark Termini a long time Cleveland agent, is now working in conjunction with Rich Paul. these guys are doing business out of Cleveland.

Rizzo: you know I am a Termini guy. I am windy. I love Termini. I think he’s a great dude. well documented. 

Windhorst: That was a very minor thing that happened last week that probably nobody cares about fan-wise, but could end up being pretty important in this whole thing.  Rich Paul is LeBron’s new agent, Rich Paul does not partner up with mark termani unless Lebron signs off on it. in fact i know for a fact that Lebron signed off on it.

So, there’s some things moving into place. the Cavs still have a lot of work to do. They’ve got to go get some more talent and that is priority number one. and that’s gotta happen. that’s gotta be their number one thing. and so once that happens, if that happens, if that works out, then we can move on and possibly get more serious about them a year from now. but it’s definitely out there as a possibility but i don’t it’s something anyone should count on and just assume it’s going to happen.

From Wojnarowksi’s column:

James has been thinking about a return to Cleveland for most of his time with the Heat, including the night of his cable TV special. He had second-guessed himself that night, but once Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert released that vitriolic letter, James understood: There was no turning back.

Rich Paul has stayed back in Cleveland to run his business and now represents Thompson, the Cavaliers’ young forward. As Yahoo! Sports reported last February, James’ associates had been feeling out members of the Cavaliers organization on a possible return in 2014.

And finally, you have tweets from LeBron praising Kyrie Irving (more than once) and he’s been publicly showing love to the Ohio State and Cleveland guys Donte Whitner and Ted Gin on the Niners.1

Smell fire yet?

A little bit?

I’m not going to tell any Clevelander how to feel about LeBron James. I hate when out of town sports commentators tell Clevelanders to “let it g0″ with regard to Art Modell or the Ravens.. I won’t deny anyone their right to hate LeBron or Modell.

I just wouldn’t mind if the greater Cleveland area didn’t hate the greatest basketball on the planet (who was born and raised in Akron and is the Cavs’ All-Time leading scorer). I’m sick of grudges and the constant negativity that surrounds the Cleveland sports culture. The Decision was a stupid mistake made by a coddled millionaire who has since apologized for it. I maintain that, while the Decision was gut wrenching, I refuse to let it ruin LeBron’s entire time as a Cavalier. Those years were funCheer for who you want to cheer for. All I can do is explain my point of view.

Would I take LeBron back? Yes. Because I like basketball. Nay, I love basketball. Especially NBA basketball. Especially the Cleveland Cavaliers.

So if the best player in the NBA wants to come play for my team, I’m in. And even if I told myself I’ll still hate the guy, there’s no way I’m not watching. I know myself better than that. You’re telling me you’ll watch and cheer LeBron James for seven years, Kyrie Irving for three years and then won’t watch if they’d team up? Really?

I also have a theory that ‘true Cavs fans’ feel differently about LeBron than the average Cleveland fan.2 For most Cleveland sports fans, the Cavs are a distant third behind the Browns and the Tribe. And I feel that these people are more bitter about LeBron and the Decision than your average Cavs fan3.

While I hated the Decision, I wasn’t exactly shocked that LeBron chose to play with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh rather than Antawn Jamison and Mo Williams. Nor can I fault him for it. I can fault him for going on TV and kicking Northeast Ohio square in the junk, but that bit him in the ass, no? The Heat blew the Finals and everyone blamed LeBron. He took a beating after the Dallas series. Did you really need any more LeBron schadenfreude? Everyone on TV was calling him a choker and wondering if he had what it took to play in the big moments. LeBron acted like an ass and paid for his hubris. The price was paid.

I feel that most Cleveland fans see a Cavs team that has been well below .500 in each post-LeBron season. That’s it. They see a bad basketball team. End of story. Full stop.

As a Cavs fan, I see a team that had to rebuild and start over completely. This time, the Cavs are doing it the right way, through the draft (unlike the LeBron years). And the thing is, this rebuild really can’t be going any better. Cleveland’s first pick in the post-LeBron era was Kyrie Irving. That’s your best case scenario: you follow the LeBron era by picking Kyrie Irving. You literally cannot ask for anything more than that.

Because Kyrie Irving is great. He is special.

 


That there are rumors that LeBron could return to the wine and gold in 2014 is solely because of the greatness of Kyrie Irving. Look at those lists in the above tweets. The Cavs have a 20-year old All-Star point guard, a ton of picks and a super flexible roster. So while I’d be down for a Irving-James team up, it isn’t necessary. Unlike from 2003-2010, the Cavs will be fine with or without LeBron.

And that’s the key. The Cavs aren’t in desperation mode. Would LeBron James help the Cavaliers? Dur. Of course he would, there’s no denying that. But like Windhorst said, the moves the Cavs would make to entice LeBron are pretty much the same moves you’d make to build a team around Kyrie Irving. You collect assets and try to flip them for a star.

If LeBron wants to come home and finish what he started, so be it. I’m in. I can’t not be. I love basketball too much.

And if LeBron toys with the emotions of the greater Cleveland area and proceeds to jump ship to the Lakers… if nothing else, we’ll have definitivelyanswered the question: “The Decision: stupid or malicious?”.

___________________________________________________

Footnotes:

  1. I personally feel that LeBron wants to be able to walk around Akron and go to Ohio State games when he’s 50 without any controversy. Playing for the Cavs again would allow him to do that. []
  2. and by ‘true Cavs fan’ I mean those rare Cleveland fans for who the Cavs are their top sports team, not the Browns or Tribe []
  3. @WayneEmbrysKids is the exception that proves the rule []
  • Go Cavs

    Great article. Really looked at every angle of this thing and drew some good conclusions.

  • TobaccoRoad

    I’m not going to spend the next two seasons thinking about this. If it happens in 2014, then it happens, and it would be great. But I’m not going through 18 months of speculation.

  • FearTheRoo

    Go get Kevin Love and hope Greg Oden pans out. Could be a solid team in 2014.

  • Eric G

    As a VERY casual basketball fan I can appreciate the insight of this article. I think he’ll likely toy with Cleveland in 2014 just to leave them behind again and go to LA.

  • Lunch

    What’s awkward about all these LeBron rumors is that the press would make Dan Gilbert a laughing stock, and demand that Chris Grant be fired if LeBron chooses not to come back to Cleveland. Worse, the press would further mock the Cavs using Comic Sans in their articles.

    Still, no sleep loss here. If he chooses to come back, good. If not, that’s good too because we can then see how well a Kyrie Irving lead (and Chris Grant built) team does against these so called “super teams” in the the league.

  • historycat

    The “Network that should not be named” will be making money off this for 2 years. they know that their web-traffic and ratings in Cleveland are at a low. We’re tired of the montage, we’re tired of the negativity. They want to win us back.

    James is going to do what is best for James. He always has. Remember, he’s from Akron, we’re not his “hometown” team. He said so himself when he left.

    If he can win a championship here, and make himself more liked, and make himself more money then he will. He could also do all 3 of those things in NYC or LA or Brooklyn too. That’s 4 teams that would be more likely than Cleveland, because who wants to come to Cleveland?

    I remember the hype when his first contract expired. We all remember the hype when his second contract expired. He’ll milk this for all it’s worth, and he’s feeding into it by focusing on Irving on twitter. It’s just as likely he’ll convince our star to follow him, just as Wade convinced him.

    James is a strong man and a great talent with a weak personality, and I’m not going to get on a bandwagon driven by someone like that. Let’s focus on what we can do, and let him Decide II. I’m not wasting more time on him until he commits to us.

  • jeff k

    Not trying to get ahead of myself, but can you imagine this team in 2014 IF (and I personally think that’s a big if) LeBron does come back:
    PG: Kyrie
    SG: Dion
    SF: LeBron / Alonzo Gee
    PF: Tristan
    C: Tyler Zeller/ Andy

    And this would be without our 2013 #1 pick (top 5?), the Lakers/Heat 2013 #1 pick, all our #1s for the the foreseeable future, the 2015 Heat #1 (which I believe is top 10 protected but if everyone leaves in the summer of ’14 may have some value), the Memphis #1 crazy protected pick, and the Sacremento #1 (which if I read correctly can become a 2nd rounder in 2017 if the Kings don’t make the playoffs before then so that may be worthless). LeBron won 60+ games here with a ton less talent than he would have here in 2014.

  • Porckchop

    Why stop with Love? Why not just get Kevin Durant as well? Can you imagine LoveDurantIrving? We’d nickname them KK, uh. Maybe Lebron is a better choice.

  • zonk

    I was quoted at a 2003 NBA lottery draft party at the Q in the Akron Beacon Journal on why I was not in line for a Lebron jersey “because I would be in Cleveland longer than he would be.” I was right by about a year.

    Take this to the bank, Lebron is not coming back to Cleveland, and not because of Lebron, but because Dan Gilbert will never let it happen. Gilbert will not lose over 1/3 of this team’s fan base over that short term of a decision. Cavs are currently 19th in attendance with a bottom 5 record. With Lebron back they would get sellouts for 3 years, and then the place would be a ghost town. Never taking him back would probably means 15-20k people per game for the future.as the team is on the come without the backstabbing weasel.

  • theherd10

    The bottom line is this: we (you, me, or any other Cavs fan) have ZERO say in what the Cavs’ FO decides to do regarding #6. As I’ve said here more than once, personal preference, I hope he doesn’t return. But at the end of the day, I have no control over that. So, I will continue to watch the process of building this Cavs team, and what happens, happens.

  • maxfnmloans

    ^^^^^ this. Like x 1,000

  • hutch058

    Great article!

  • hutch058

    “It’s just as likely he’ll convince our star to follow him, just as Wade convinced him.”

    wow, what a scary thought….

  • thenoclist

    I was mad when he left, but I’m over it. I just want to win. Beggars can’t be choosers. If you’re a real fan of the Cavs, you’ll want him back because he gives them a better chance to win. And that’s all that matters. Remember when we used to win? I do. I miss it. I want to feel that again. Lebron, come back and help us win again. I welcome it.

  • toledostripper

    So i’m not a “true Cavs fan” b/c I can’t rank them above the Browns or Tribe? K.thx.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lnicholas2 Lee Nicholas

    What’s more awesome is that the Memphis pick’s protection isn’t that crazy. The Kings pick is nuts, but the Memphis pick is more straightforward. If we’re playing ‘best case scenario’ here then its possible that in 2018 or 2019 (I forget which) we could be getting an unprotected 1st rounder from that? Could you imagine getting a #1 overall pick whilst having a Kyrie in his prime/championship caliber team in place?

  • http://www.facebook.com/lnicholas2 Lee Nicholas

    I’d be happy either way. I’m intrigued by the idea of a ‘redemption’ story and getting to watch Lebron and Kyrie play together – arguably the two best Cavs of all time. At the same time how much sweeter would it be to win a championship and beat Lebron doing it?

  • jeff k

    Yea I got you. I just meant crazy in the sense that it’s 6-14 protected in ’15, 6-14 in 2016 etc…I think it becomes unprotected in ’19..either way if that pick does somehow become a top 5 (even top 10) pick for Jon Leuer..wow…

  • saggy

    Oh come on. Dan Gilbert would welcome him back with open arms. The value of his franchise would nearly double if LeBron came back.

  • Roosevelt

    You know what that lineup reminds me of? It reminds me of the Cavs before he left, with Kyrie in place of Mo Williams. I’ve been loving every second of Kyrie, and trying to find the joy in TT’s development and Dion’s flashes, but let’s be honest, neither TT nor Dion is substantially different than what we had before.

  • Harv 21

    Yeah, Gilbert will probably let his bad feelings go – the years of catering to and tilting the whole org toward the spoiled man-child and his imbecile entourage, building multimillion dollar practice facility for him, and who knows what else before being shafted without a phone call – because business is business and Dan is definitely the type to let go. We know, even though Gilbert said well after the Decision that he would never be held hostage to a player again. We know cuz LeBron is less entitled and manipulative now, waaay more mature (just watch his barber shop and family kitchen commercials). Nah, Dan’s views aren’t as important as LeBron’s smoke, LeBron gets what he wants. And anyway, let’s not worry about Dan’s view or we can’t get titillated by this talk. Rumors are flying man, and that means smoke, and that means … Oh, man, why can’t the national media leave this alone, giggle-giggle.

    I think what we have to be prepared for in the next year is “thorough” articles like this that relegate Gilbert’s attitude toward LeBron to mere footnote status.

  • boomhauertjs

    But Kyrie is light years better than Mo.

  • jeff k

    Kyrie is better than Mo, Dion is already/ will be better than Anthony Parker, 2013 LeBron is better than 2010 LeBron, not sure how to rate Jamison vs. Tristan, and Andy is better than a 36 year old Shaq..plus a bunch of 1st rounders for the bench is better than Jamario Moon and Delonte West..not quite sure what the heck you’re talking about…

  • jeff k

    my fault I just realized JJ started 73 games that year..and averaged 8 and 6..

  • jeff k

    sorry wasn’t trying to come off like a jerk there..but you have to agree that kyrie/dion/lebron/tristan and andy/tyler + another top 5 pick and a bunch more first rounders is better than mo/anthony parker/lebron/jj hickson and broken down z and shaq with delone and jamario moon on the bench..wouldn’t you?

  • Jaker

    So you’re sayin there’s a chance…

  • saggy

    Arguably? I mean, I LOVE Mark Price, and all, but I don’t think you can argue that KI and LBJ are the best Cavs ever. After Ben Poquette, of course.

  • ClevelandsFinest

    My first memory of LeBron James was watching him on ESPN in high school at SVSM. It was the first game I had seen him play and I’ll never forget the fast break he had and threw it through his legs for an incredible dunk. I was 14 years old when we drafted LeBron James and I couldn’t of been happier. Fast forward to the Decision and everything that happened. I couldn’t believe that he left, let alone shove it in our face on national television. I was mad/angry just like everyone else. All of my friends burned their LeBron gear and rightfully so. I never did. I kept my jersey and turned it into a J.J. Hickson jersey (that turned out well). I rooted against him so hard and I will forever love Dirk Nowitzki for beating the Heat in the finals. Now in 2013 as I watch Kyrie Irving abuse NBA defenders, I can’t help but wonder what a Kyrie Irving and LeBron James team could do. I hated LBJ so much and I never wanted him back and Kyrie helped me realize there are other great players in the league. But I can’t help but want LeBron back. I would love to see him in the Wine and Gold with Kyrie holding up a NBA championship.
    How do I go from hating LBJ so much, to watching him on national tv and miss cheering for him? The answer is time. No matter what Dan Gilbert does or says, he knows LeBron is the best player in the league right now. If Gilbert wants to win and bring a championship to Cleveland then he has to at least try to bring back LeBron. He will definitely have people mad at him for even thinking about taking LeBron back but the best way to shut up those people is to win a championship. No one can hate on Gilbert if he brings a championship to a city that has deserved one since 1964.
    This doesn’t mean that we have to forget what LeBron did to Cleveland. I’ll never forget the Decision and all the hate I had toward him, but the best way to make me forget is to bring Cleveland a championship.

  • BigDigg

    There’s a narrative out there on still bitter spurned Cavs fans. I’d like to squash this. I really think this town has moved on, and the only thing keeping this narrative going are columnists (local and national) with these types of articles. That said I do read them all :)

    Re: 2014 – what will be will be. I’m sure Dan G and every Cavs fan will be delighted if Lebron came back. No question about it. It would be a nice story and Cavs would be very well positioned to own the Eastern conference with that addition alone. But we have to be careful that we don’t allow this to highjack what’s going on right now. Kyrie is sensational and Chris Grant has positioned this team to really take off. We can’t let Lebron dictate the perception of this fanbase or team any longer. This team and town are ready to stand on their own outside of that shadow. Let’s start talking about 2014 as the year the Cavs take off whether Lebron’s on board or not.

  • BenRM

    I’m completely on board if the best player in the NBA and probably one of the top 5 best players of all time wants to come to Cleveland.

    That said, let’s not get all New York Knicks about this.

  • http://twitter.com/tompestak Thomas Pestak

    “I also have a theory that ‘true Cavs fans’ feel differently about LeBron than the average Cleveland fan.” I thought the sentence after this was going to be: “Most ‘true Cavs fans’ will never forgive LeBron for The Decision”.

  • cmm13

    obviously you never saw Bobby Sura play.

  • The Other Tim

    All speculation about “what LeBron wants” based on “cleveland guys” and “emotions” are meaningless. Please see: last go ’round.

  • ThatAlex

    No way. I’m a CAVS fan first and foremost. They’re my favorite basketball team, and I would give nearly anything to see them win a championship. Having LeBron back gives the Cavs their best chance to do so. It’s the “Cleveland fan” who holds grudges over the mistake the guy made years ago.

  • NoVA Buckeye

    If the four-letter wanted Cleveland back, they would’ve fired Mark May (and their writers) by now.

  • NoVA Buckeye

    Just imagine the lineup

    1: Kyrie/Livingston

    2: Dion/Ellington

    3: LeBron/Speights

    4: Andy/TT

    5: Oden/Zeller
    That would be lethal if that would happen. Maybe the most stacked team in the NBA.
    Oh yeah, and we’d have to move Walton’s contract. Would help a lot.

  • mgbode

    I’m sorry but all I see there is Speights at SF and it makes me laugh. Minor point, I know.

  • Dorf

    What if…….this was part of a, (rather poorly played WWF-ish) melodrama………
    Those earlier Cav’s teams were not going all the way. What if…..this is a way to accumulate enough talent in Cleveland, that James’ arrival pushes them over the top?

  • Online_Predator

    If he dont come back in 2014, then i dont want him back…….he will be old by time hes a free agent again.