Cavaliers enter the LeBron Twilight Zone
The Cleveland Cavaliers will know by Friday June 29, whether they will return to planet earth when LeBron James decides if he will opt out of his contract and become a free agent or return to his home team on a precarious one year deal.
LeBron’s decision this time could prove to be more catastrophic to the Cleveland Cavaliers, than when the Cavaliers were one of the league’s worst franchises, compiling a 97-215 record without making a single playoff appearance.
The first step towards that possible bleak future began last week when the franchise was so paralyzed awaiting the LeBron decision that it took Alabama freshman point guard Colin Sexton with the No. 8 pick acquired from the Boston Celtics in the Kyrie Irving trade.
Sexton was expected to go late in the lottery, but instead the Cavs took him four or maybe five spots higher because Oklahoma sensation Trae Young was gone by then.
This explains why David Griffin was so important to the front office and why LeBron’s decision is so monumental this time around.
When LeBron left via trade in 2010, the Cavs got a big draft haul from the Miami Heat.
"This deal provides us with multiple key assets and additional flexibility as we move forward for both the short term and beyond," said then Cavaliers General Manager Chris Grant.
Let’s just examine whom the Cavs got for the short and long term. Okay they took Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson in the first round of 2011 and also added Milan Macvan from Serbia and University of Richmond product Justin Harper. Macvan is still in Serbia and Harper is planning in France.
The following year in 2012, the Cavs drafted Dion Waiters of Syracuse and Jared Cunningham of Oregon State with their first round picks and Marquette’s Jae Crowder and Bernard James of Florida State in the second round. Cunningham is playing in Munich, Germany and this James in some place called Limoges.
It’s a sad tale that has unfolded over and over in Cleveland, Anthony Bennett with the No. 1 pick in 2013 and the selection of Sergey Karasev of Russia.
Yeah, they got Andrew Wiggins of Kansas in 2014, but traded him to Minnesota for Kevin Love to accommodate LeBron.
The list is an incredible litany of robust busts, Joe Harris, Sir Dominic Pointer and who knows how Sexton will develop where you have an overpaid George Hill and over under achieving Jordan Clarkson.
I would compare the Cavs haul from the LeBron Decision to the Celtics trading two surefire Hall of Famers to the Nets, but we all know how that’s is turning out.
So, what if LeBron doesn’t feel he owes the Cavs anything after delivering a title in 2016?
I admire Dan Gilbert for his lavish spending sprees to keep LeBron happy and contend for NBA championships year after year, but at some point it just becomes an exercise in fruition.
Essentially, it’s fools gold. Eventually you will totally crap out like the Yankees have done in baseball and the Lakers.
The Golden State Warriors will soon have to decide how much all the championships are worth, 200 million, 300 million or even closer to 400 million when the bills become due.
As much as people laud the Kevin Durant decision as the reason for back-to-back titles for the Warriors, the team was built through smart draft picks. First rounder’s Steph Curry and Klay Thompson and second rounder Draymond Green are foundational pieces.
When LeBron came back to Cleveland he said:
“I looked at other teams,” James said in his statement, “but I wasn’t going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland. The more time passed, the more it felt right. This is what makes me happy.”
What makes LeBron Happy now?
Cavs General Manager Koby Altman has said that the organization has had good dialogue with LeBron’s management team.
Duh…Altman and the Cavs are the only one’s allowed to talk to LeBron’s management team until July 1. Let’s see what happens when the LeBron free agent circus really begins.
There have also been reports the Cavs are content to build their team around Kevin Love, if LeBron bolts.
That too is a fair gesture, if you had people within the organization who knew how the judge and develop talent and had the vast relationships throughout the league to surround Love with a capable supporting cast.
So, as the Cavs enter into yet another LeBron James Twilight Zone to a place of the unknown where meteors plummet back to earth and where the stars don’t always align, except for the one star who gets what he designs, that you remember the globe is round and it can snow in Northeast Ohio when there isn’t a forecast for a winter storm.