Mar 9, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT
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.
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.
Bucks president threatens arena financing must be completed in 10 days or team ‘will be gone from the state of Wisconsin,’ backs off
Apr 22, 2015, 12:11 AM EDT
Bucks can set deadlines, but they lack leverage
Apr 21, 2015, 11:30 PM EDT
Washington wins Game 2, 117-106, in Toronto
Apr 21, 2015, 10:45 PM EDT
LeBron to Love, LeBron from Irving
Apr 21, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT
LeBron had 30, Kyrie Irving added 26 to give Cleveland the 2-0 lead in the series.
Apr 21, 2015, 9:41 PM EDT
Devin Harris also out Game 2 for Mavericks
LeBron James on Pat Riley saying ‘No more smiling faces with hidden agendas:’ ‘I don’t care about nonsense’
Apr 21, 2015, 8:45 PM EDT
LeBron says he’s focused on helping the Cavaliers in the playoffs
Apr 21, 2015, 8:00 PM EDT
Bulls forward strained knee in scuffle with Zaza Pachulia
Apr 21, 2015, 7:15 PM EDT
Expect to see a lot more Kawhi Leonard (and Danny Green) on Paul from the start.
Apr 21, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT
He said it was a running joke with a teammate.
Apr 21, 2015, 5:40 PM EDT
Lillard was 5-of-21 in Game 1.
Apr 21, 2015, 4:51 PM EDT
The twins were allegedly part of a group that beat up a man outside a rec league basketball tournament.
Apr 21, 2015, 4:14 PM EDT
Horford is going to have work to do on the defensive end slowing down Brook Lopez.
Apr 21, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT
Well done, Zach Randolph and the Memphis Grizzlies.
Apr 21, 2015, 2:43 PM EDT
Teletovic was originally ruled out for the season on Jan. 23.
Apr 21, 2015, 1:50 PM EDT
Is nothing sacred?
Nets coach Lionel Hollins isn’t focused on stopping Kyle Korver: ‘It’s not like we’re talking Stephen Curry’
Apr 21, 2015, 1:10 PM EDT
Korver led the Hawks with 21 points in Atlanta’s Game 1 win over the Nets.
Apr 21, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT
He’ll consider everything.
Apr 21, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT
Another report has Aldridge at no better than 50-50 to re-sign with the Blazers.
Apr 21, 2015, 11:10 AM EDT
Williams will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Apr 21, 2015, 10:26 AM EDT
Full voting results enclosed.
- LeBron’s 30-point performance leads Cavaliers to hard-fought Game 2 win over Celtics 6
- PBT Extra matchups to watch: Spurs look for ways to contain Chris Paul 5
- PBT Extra matchups to watch: Can Memphis keep Damian Lillard in check? 0
- Report: Suns’ Morris twins charged with aggravated assault 13
- Hawks’ Mike Budenholzer named 2014-15 NBA Coach of the Year 10
- With Anthony Davis and Pelicans drained, Warriors deliver down the stretch 12
- PBT Extra matchup to watch: Can Toronto keep Paul Pierce quiet on the court? 6
- Bulls overcome ugly start to take 2-0 series lead over Bucks 14