LeBron James will be returning to the Cavs for one more season as he plays out his contract, but he has a player option for 2018-19, which has many predicting that he’ll be departing Cleveland at that time.
Whether he goes to Los Angeles — where he owns a house — or returns to Miami, remains to be seen, and a lot will depend on what the Cavs do this season.
That’s why many figured the team to be very active during the offseason. However, that hasn’t been the case. So far, they’ve only signed Jose Calderon and Jeff Green. Those are solid options to add depth to the bench, but let’s be honest, it’s not enough to compete with the reigning world champion Golden State Warriors. James is at the point of his career where winning is all that matters and isn’t content to just go out for music and drinks after the game.
James was very direct about wanting the Cavs to be active during the NBA offseason, to build a team that can battle it out against the Warriors. Right now, let’s be honest: This team isn’t good enough to beat KD, Curry, Draymond, Klay and Co. in a seven-game series. James wanted to make sure the team would make some moves to help them improve and better their chances.
But unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. Paul George, Chris Paul, Jimmy Butler, Gordon Hayward, Blake Griffin and Paul Millsap are all off the board, and there really isn’t much talent left. And James apparently is not happy about it, which USA Today Sports recently learned, through a source. It started with the firing of former general manager David Griffin.
James’ frustration with the Griffin situation didn’t end there. Other teams loaded up. The Warriors retooled with Kevin Durant re-signing for less money than he could have and Steph Curry re-signing for a max deal. They retained Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston and added shooters Nick Young and Omri Casspi.
The Crawford signing stung. The Cavs were in the running for the three-time Sixth Man of the Year. But the Cavs offered just the minimum salary ($2.3 million a season) when they had the taxpayer midlevel ($5.19 million per season) available.
James was active in recruiting Crawford, and Crawford appreciated James’ efforts to get him to Cleveland. James did his part. But the Timberwolves offered $4.45 million a season. Instead, the Cavs gave part of the taxpayer midlevel exception to Turkish big man Cedi Osman, who is unlikely to make an impact in 2017-18.
At 32, James wants to win now. Given Cleveland’s salary cap situation which prevents it from unlimited spending, James is realistic about what’s possible and what’s not, and that’s why he wonders why the Cavs went into a critical period without veteran front-office execs in place to execute complicated moves. Both Griffin and Redden will have front-office jobs when the right opportunity presents itself.
It was only a matter of time before this was going to happen. The Cavs have remained quiet and their biggest offseason move was firing James’ biggest friend in the front office, in Griffin. So it’s really not a big surprise that he’s upset about it. It will be interesting to see if he speaks about it publicly in the coming months, rather than using a member of his camp to relay the message.