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Cleveland Cavalier's nuclear option: The sign-and-trade

May 21, 2010, 1:09 PM EDT

James_interview.jpgCleveland officials will not even discuss it. It is a thought they have banished from their minds, as if even allowing it to creep in seems to make it a little bit more possible. They don’t want admit the worst, nobody ever does.

But the reality is they could lose LeBron James this summer. Smart money still says he stays in Cleveland, but nobody knows for sure. He could be gone. And if he is going, then a hard question falls to Danny Ferry and the Cavaliers staff:

Would they do a sign-and-trade for LeBron James?

Probably not. Brian Windhorst — the best source for Cavaliers insight — said it simply and clearly:

“…that’s the last thing the Cavaliers want to do. They don’t want to assist LeBron in packing his bags out of here.”

For those unfamiliar a sign-and-trade, it is when the team a player is leaving signs him to a new contract than instantly trades the player and the contract to another team. Both sides have reasons to play this game. For the player it is money, because under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement the team that owns the rights to a player can sign him for one more year (six instead of five) with higher raises. (The goal was to give top players an incentive to stay with one team.) For the team in means getting something back for a player that was going to leave anyway.

For a max-contract player like LeBron a sign-and-trade means almost $30 million over the six years of the deal. That’s a lot of scratch, and LeBron may want six years on his deal under this CBA because the new one about to be negotiated likely will     have lower maximum deals and fewer years permitted.

A sign-and-trade is almost expected in the case of Chris Bosh, but he is far more likely to leave Toronto than James is Cleveland. The thing is it takes two sides to cooperate on a sign and trade — teams have to agree to the deal.

James would have to force the issue on to the Cavaliers — they are not going to help him out the door, as Windhorst said. James will have to say “I’m gone anyway, you can get something or nothing for me.”

And even then, Cleveland could say no. They may not act logically, they are the dumpee. Anyone who has felt spurned in a passionate relationship knows the feeling — you do stupid things out of anger and frustration. You don’t think with your head, you don’t think about the future. The Cavaliers could be that way with LeBron.

If they do agree to listen to sign-and-trade offers you know the New York Knicks will jump in, because they will jump in all things LeBron. Then there are the Chicago Bulls — already rumored to be a preferred destination by James — who could make an offer. They could put up Luol Deng and some other smaller parts (Hinrich?) to balance out the salaries. A sign and trade would preserve the Bulls cap space to bring in someone like Bosh to pair alongside James and Derrick Rose and vault the Bulls to contention.

But the Cavaliers likely would resist sending James to any team in the East. Are they really going to okay making a rival in the Midwest an instant contender? If a sign-and-trade were to happen it likely would send LeBron West.

There are teams in the West that would love to dance. Mark Cuban was tampering yesterday but his team would be in a good spot, able to offer cap space with the non-guaranteed contract Erick Dampier and some talented players. There are other teams, like the Los Angeles Lakers, who could offer Andrew Bynum and parts to pair LeBron with Kobe Bryant so they could just destroy the world for a couple years. Other teams will bid as well.

But the Cavaliers don’t even want to think about it. That is where it stands now, and likely always will.

  1. LBJCLE - May 21, 2010 at 4:01 PM

    Come on…LeBron isn’t going anywhere. This is all just marketing. Cleveland loves LeBron and LeBron loves Cleveland. Come on LBJ…we have unfinished business to take care of!

  2. King Jay - May 21, 2010 at 4:21 PM

    Just tell me what Dallas and the Knicks have to give up?
    The Knicks have nothing plain and simple
    Cleveland would take Dampier and who?? Butler, marion?
    please

  3. Crash - May 21, 2010 at 4:53 PM

    Its irrelevant what Dallas or the knicks have, to give up! Lebron is outta Clevland an you fools can’t stop him! WohoooooO!!

  4. dmiller24 - May 21, 2010 at 5:01 PM

    They could screw LBJ much like Boozer screwed the Cavs. If he signs, we don’t have to send him anywhere good. Or, we could send him to Chicago and insist that Rose be part of the deal. “Oh, you don’t want to make that trade. Sorry LBJ, we tried.” Spurned love with multimillionaires…I love it!

  5. dmiller24 - May 21, 2010 at 5:01 PM

    They could screw LBJ much like Boozer screwed the Cavs. If he signs, we don’t have to send him anywhere good. Or, we could send him to Chicago and insist that Rose be part of the deal. “Oh, you don’t want to make that trade. Sorry LBJ, we tried.” Spurned love with multimillionaires…I love it!

  6. Jake - May 21, 2010 at 5:09 PM

    A sign and trade would only make sense with Lebron if he is going to a contender. Why would LBJ go to Chicago if Chicago were to lose Deng in the deal. It would make more sense for LBJ to go to the Lakers and have Cleveland get Bynum plus misc. pieces.

  7. Bizzle - May 21, 2010 at 5:51 PM

    If Lebron wanted to win he would go to the Lakers. Play with Kobe for a couple years and ownt eh entire league and then the team becomes solely his. Too bad Lebron isn’t all about winning Lebron is about the money and the status and probably won’t want to share the spotlight with Kobe.
    The Lakers would actually be able to deliver championships unlike the Mavs, Knicks, Wizards and maybe the Bulls

  8. stinkyjames - May 21, 2010 at 6:25 PM

    @LBJCLE It’s true, Cleveland has unfinished business to take care of but that business will still remain unfinished if LBJ stays. He needs a veteran player to take charge when LBJ is hiding behind the 3-point line and passing the ball away instead of heading to the basket. The smartest move he can make would be to do what Ron Ron did, or about to do, win a champion with the champs. Once the King has ring, he can do whatever he wants.

  9. Jimsjam33 - May 21, 2010 at 6:43 PM

    How about a sign and trade with the Lakers ? Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum would just about match salaries with the King . Then the Lakers would have to go out and bring Shaq back for a discounted contract . It’s possible , but why would Jerry Buss actually part with Gasol( since Gasol compliments Byrant better than any other combination in the NBA. )

  10. Jake - May 21, 2010 at 7:01 PM

    Lebron cannot name his price because of NBA rules. As a player in years 7-9, he can make 30% of the team salary cap in the first year of his contract. The 2010/2011 team salary cap is expected to be 56.1M. Lebron may want to make 30M/year but cannot.

  11. LJ - May 21, 2010 at 7:40 PM

    Its funny how people are saying that Lebron is in it for the money. I have news for you guys. He’s going to make money regardless and if he stays with Cleveland he can make more money than with any other team unless they do a sign and trade. I don’t know if the rumors are true (GJ and DW affair)why would Lebron stay? Also, their team was assembled for a championship run and they fail short because of Mike Brown being out coached and players not bringing it. They flat out choked and poor JJ Hickson who got them there couldn’t get off the bench. Damn!!!!!

  12. LJ - May 21, 2010 at 7:44 PM

    Its funny how people are saying that Lebron is in it for the money. I have news for you guys. He’s going to make money regardless and if he stays with Cleveland he can make more money than with any other team unless they do a sign and trade. I don’t know if the rumors are true (GJ and DW affair)why would Lebron stay? Also, their team was assembled for a championship run and they fail short because of Mike Brown being out coached and players not bringing it. They flat out choked and poor JJ Hickson who got them there couldn’t get off the bench.

  13. luffy - May 21, 2010 at 9:39 PM

    Agreed, Cavs should kick out Mike Brown! Stupid move to get Ilgauskas, is that out of pity or what? Going to Chicago is probably the best thing that he does. w/Rose, Noah, Gibson and Hinrich there, they’d probably get into the Finals next season, that’s the real run and gun team. Then instead of Lebron going to New York perhaps Chicago could just get D’Antoni as their coach…
    Plus Chicago Jersey # 6 could top the sales if it happens. I’m a Laker fan btw but would love to see a Lakers-Bulls finals again…

  14. luffy - May 21, 2010 at 9:43 PM

    And would love to see a Boston-Chicago Eastern conference finals as well…

  15. pizzadawg - May 22, 2010 at 6:44 PM

    all signs point to love, love of a city, love for the people, admiration to the ones who get up everyday, and struggle to live in this city that we call home, Cleveland, Akron, two cities joined together at the hip, with one all important factor thrown into the mix, with that said, I think the new casino should be out where the old Richfield Coliseum was so Lebron ain’t gotta drive very far to go have some fun, LMAO…….

  16. die hard laker fan - May 23, 2010 at 2:21 AM

    yeah LBJ with lakers would be dominating the west for a couple yrs while shaq keep bouncing around the league to win another ring hahahahahaha

  17. Frank - Jun 25, 2010 at 12:19 AM

    Not accepting a sign-and-trade for LeBron wouldn’t be illogical, it would be smart. Who are they gonna get that’ll make up for LeBron? Two scrubs from the Bulls? You’re not thinking clearly here if you think that’s getting something. They can refuse the sign-and-trade and save that cap space and money for 2011 when they can try and lure some worthwhile free agents or trades who want to play for a serious owner who’s ready to spend to win. Easy call for the Cavs.

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