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Report: Cavaliers privately believe it’s not too late to lure LeBron back to Cleveland

Mar 9, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

lebron cleveland z AP

LeBron James attended the jersey retirement ceremony of Zydrunas Ilgauskas on Saturday, a move that would have been viewed as unusual by NBA standards even before considering the history that exists between the star player and the team where he began his NBA career.

James played his first seven seasons in Cleveland, before infamously spurning the organization with an ill-conceived, nationally-televised spectacle that caused Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert to pen a letter full of vitriol aimed at his former franchise player.

The relationship seemed to be irreparably damaged, but time has taken the sting out of the way the separation went down. And while the Cavs have underachieved this season and fired their general manager along the way, people inside the organization believe they still have a shot in tempting James to return to Cleveland as a free agent.

From Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal:

Yes, the Cavs underachieved this season. Yes, Grant tried feverishly for the past two years, but could never find that second star to pair with Kyrie Irving and ultimately serve as the bait to lure James back to the Cavs.

But the Cavs privately believe it’s not too late. They still have the assets to pull off a mammoth trade this summer at the draft, the type Grant tried so hard to make. Kevin Love will be entering the final year of his contract, as will LaMarcus Aldridge. Grant tried for two years to unsuccessfully pry both stars out of their current cities, but each had too many years left on their contracts for their current teams to consider it. That’s no longer true.

If either the Minnesota Timberwolves or Portland Trail Blazers come to the conclusion they can’t re-sign their stars, this summer is the time to move them and the Cavs will be at the front of the line, stocked with young players and future draft picks.

The Timberwolves have Kevin Love under contract for next season, and are not going to trade him before it’s absolutely necessary under any circumstances. If a trade does happen, it won’t be until the following summer, and will only take place if Love insists on playing elsewhere as a free agent — at that point, the team may consider sign-and-trade options.

In Portland, it would seem even less likely that LaMarcus Aldridge would become available, for some of the same reasons. Except that the Blazers are actually decent, sitting at 22 games over .500 in the deep Western Conference while being essentially assured of a playoff spot this season.

Neither of the stars mentioned are likely to become available this summer, when James can opt out of the final year of his deal in Miami to become a free agent. And even if the Cavaliers made a ridiculous offer of young players and multiple first round picks to try to secure an All-Star to pair with Kyrie Irving, it’s far from guaranteed that any of that would entice James to leave the Heat.

Cleveland’s best course of action is to throw those assets at a team in exchange for a star player who still has at least two years remaining on his contract. The game’s top free agents aren’t going to choose to play for the Cavaliers willingly, but if they’re brought in via trade and the team can build a playoff contender around them, they may find it harder to leave when the opportunity comes.

If you believe James still has a soft spot for his home town and may indeed want to return one day, perhaps in the final season or two of his career, that’s not crazy to envision. But going back in his prime to play alongside talent that doesn’t come close to guaranteeing a title? That line of thinking is delusional, at best.

  1. timmons94 - Mar 9, 2014 at 12:39 PM

    And the tooth fairy and Santa are real. And the browns haven’t lost 11 or more 6 years in a row.. Only in Believeland

    • therealhtj - Mar 9, 2014 at 5:03 PM

      They probably privately believe Gilbert’s rant was “that bad” either.

      • wilbon7800allyn7800 - Mar 9, 2014 at 6:20 PM

        where do they find you loners

    • jibriw85 - Mar 10, 2014 at 7:00 PM

      If LeBron goes back to the Cavs that would be the worst decision he could make. He wouldn’t win ANY championships with them, only MVPs, records, etc. LeBron needs to stay with the Heat, it’s that simple. The Heat can win about 4 more championships before they start to suck.

  2. garypagetwo - Mar 9, 2014 at 12:50 PM

    always nice to come on here and see such point less stories written on this website. 90% of it is always B.S

  3. azarkhan - Mar 9, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    I can hear LeBron now: “Miami…Cleveland, Cleveland..Miami. Hmmm… What do you think Dwayne?”

    • spursareold - Mar 9, 2014 at 1:08 PM

      Dwayne is essentially playing on one leg at this point, and it’s not ever going to get any better for him. I don’t think LeBron will base his decision on DW any more than I think he will go back to Cleveland. LeBron will go where things will be best for LeBron.

      • azarkhan - Mar 9, 2014 at 2:21 PM

        It’s called a rhetorical question. Bottom line is, he’s not picking Cleveland over Miami.

      • tuberippin - Mar 9, 2014 at 7:58 PM

        A rhetorical question, by definition, is not posed to another person.

    • wilbon7800allyn7800 - Mar 9, 2014 at 6:20 PM

      not dirty ass miami nextttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt

  4. beach305 - Mar 9, 2014 at 12:52 PM

    I really feel for Cav’s fans who believe stories like this. ESPN and sites like this should show some compassion, rather than get make baseless speculations about Lebron, going back.


  5. lilyen311 - Mar 9, 2014 at 1:19 PM

    Stop the Cleveland criticism. Until you live here you have no grounds to do so. Let LeBron go and do whatever he chooses. He will make his “decision” in the media spotlight just like his “Souf Beach” one.

  6. smarshall3789 - Mar 9, 2014 at 1:32 PM

    I think he goes back home Miami after this season will be on the decline! He will go back and play with kyrie! I’m sure once he goes back they can get another top free agent! Maybe this time around they will put a team around him unlike last time!

    • wilbon7800allyn7800 - Mar 9, 2014 at 6:21 PM

      the loners gave thumbs down

  7. abchome - Mar 9, 2014 at 1:33 PM

    They better have plan B, and C, D, E…

  8. bucrightoff - Mar 9, 2014 at 1:40 PM

    Maybe if Gilbert agrees to sell the team to LeBron for $1, and LeBron then becomes the first owner/player (until Mike comes back…)

  9. innovativethinking87 - Mar 9, 2014 at 2:32 PM

    Lamarcus Aldridge already said he would like to resign with the Blazers.

    He’s playing with a future top 5 point guard if not already.

  10. andreboy1 - Mar 9, 2014 at 2:37 PM

    And I have a lunch date with Kate Upton

  11. csbanter - Mar 9, 2014 at 2:39 PM

    Lebron still has something in his heart for Cleveland. Maybe he steps up to the challenge of winning a title in Cleveland. What would become of Dwyane Wade and the Heat without Lebron ?

  12. jeffkx - Mar 9, 2014 at 3:54 PM

    I’m from a suburb of Cleveland and if I had to bet my house on LeBron coming back, I would say no. But these people that dismiss it like it’s some fairy-tale need to settle down a bit. His kids still go to school here, and I read his wife wants to come back here. Cleveland does have a little bit of talent on this team in Dion, Kyrie, Tristan, Anthony Bennett (he will be a lot better next year- hard no to be I will admit), Andy and Spencer Hawes. It’s not like he would be going back to the old, stale Cavs team he left in 2010. Plus, it looks like we will have another top ten pick in 2014, to go along with future #1s from Miami and Memphis. And most of all, Mike Brown will be gone before next season. Again, I agree it’s unlikely LeBron would come back, but let’s not all jump the gun.

  13. whitwarren - Mar 9, 2014 at 4:02 PM

    It’s kind of lame how Zydrunas left the Cavs after 14 years just to follow Bron. Cop out move. I hope he apologized to Cleveland.

  14. genericcommenter - Mar 9, 2014 at 4:10 PM

    Laughter is the best Medicine. Thank you for improving my health today.

    • wilbon7800allyn7800 - Mar 9, 2014 at 6:23 PM

      losing weight and not being ugly is a factor also now go fix that who needs to get online just to get a laugh must have no friends dummies everyday on here

  15. eugenesaxe1 - Mar 9, 2014 at 4:39 PM

    It’s not a matter of “too late”, it’s “too early”. CLE just doesn’t have its feces together.
    Kyrie wants out-does that make LBJ want to sign up?
    They could trade away their future for another big name-and they could end up like the Knicks.
    No, LBJ will follow the intelligent path of least resistance in pursuit of as many rings as he can get. He may “retire” as a Cav, but he won’t be playing any more meaningful games for them.

  16. lilyen311 - Mar 9, 2014 at 4:57 PM

    Not interested in him retiring as a Cav. Has no class when you compare him to “Z” or Price or Daugherty. He can retire with the Heat or the Knicks or the Lakers, wherever he chases his ring next.

  17. captaincanuck84 - Mar 9, 2014 at 5:01 PM

    It’s not hard to believe if they can get someone on Kevin Love’s level. Love, Irving and Lebron is better than LEbron with wade and bosh. Add another top young player this year and it is all more believable for him to go back home and win a couple titles for his hometown team and totally repair his image…..which we all know is very important to him

  18. packhawk04 - Mar 9, 2014 at 7:02 PM

    I think there is a 0% chance he goes back to cleveland, and a 90% chance he leaves miami.

  19. bigtrav425 - Mar 9, 2014 at 7:33 PM

    He is not coming back nor do we want him here…bottom line end of story…he humiliated the organization,Gilbert,the city and us fans in front of the world..screw him and. Ria. Windhurst as well!

  20. campcouch - Mar 9, 2014 at 7:44 PM

    Making “news” out of none.

  21. 11stanleycups - Mar 10, 2014 at 12:51 AM

    Lebron needs to be loved and his going back opens the door for a lot of bad feelings amongst the fan base and organization to be mended. If the Cavs get to a position that he thinks he can win a title there you better believe he’ll go home.

  22. loungefly74 - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    Pat Riley will keep him in Miami for as long as possible.

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