LeBron James was defeated by arguably one of the best NBA teams EVER. With all the commotion going on around the league it is without a doubt the Cavs have to make some serious moves to compete with the west coast giants. is not a free agent, so in the immediate aftermath of the Warriors’ decisive victory over the Cavaliers in the 2017 NBA Finals, don’t think that the four-time MVP is preparing to decamp for a new city with the star power to rival Golden State. He can’t.
Furthermore, based on a close reading of what he wrote in announcing his return to Cleveland in 2014, he’s not going anywhere. This is bigger than basketball: He wants to create a legacy in northeast Ohio that extends far beyond the NBA.
The question is whether LeBron will be content to tinker around the edges and bring the same core back for another dance in 2018, or whether he will push the Cavaliers’ front office to leverage assets to bring in another star (if that’s even possible) or swap out either Kyrie Irving or Kevin Love for a new piece. Wrapped up in that question is the problem of the Cavaliers’ front office, as general manager David Griffin is not signed beyond this season and has been targeted by teams looking for an executive.
One surmises that if LeBron wants Griffin back, and if Griffin is willing to continue to deal with the particular difficulties of Cleveland, Griffin would be re-signed. But if James and Griffin disagree on how the Cavaliers should respond to the Warriors, there will likely be changes in the front office. (Never underestimate the potential too for Cavaliers franchise owner Dan Gilbert to muck things up. Rumors suggest the hang-up with Griffin has been money, and Gilbert’s reluctance to cough more of it up.)
These are the two paths for LeBron this summer, given his lack of free agency: Run it back with some sort of strategic adjustment, or push for Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, or some All-Star who isn’t in the Banana Boat Crew.
Let’s deal with Door No. 2 first. CP3 and Wade can become free agents, but the former is still in prime money-making mode. Landing the Point God would likely require moving Irving or Love in a sign-and-trade just to make some space. One can imagine Wade taking less given his elevated age (35). Anthony is under contract with the Knicks. New York would like to move him, but he has thus far refused to relent when asked to waive his no-trade clause. Would LeBron want to see a Love for Melo trade, and would Melo agree to it if it meant making the NBA Finals?