LeBron James not expected to join a team like Lakers if it can’t compete with Warriors
What an offseason this has been for the Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers. Shortly after falling to the Golden State Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals, former Cavs general manager David Griffin elected to part ways with the organization, leaving team owner Dan Gilbert and assistant GM Koby Altman in charge of the phone lines.
For a short while, it seemed as though Gilbert had found a new man for the front office job in former Detroit Pistons great Chauncey Billups. In fact, Billups was believed to be the only person Gilbert made an offer to. However, after several face-to-face meetings and one counter-offer, the two sides failed to reach an agreement. As a result, the Cavs entered free agency without an official general manager.
So far, the Cavs have made three offseason moves. First, they re-signed veteran sharpshooter Kyle Korver to a three-year, $22 million deal. Then came the acquisitions of point guard Jose Calderon and forward Jeff Green, two players who coach Tyronn Lue will use primarily off the bench. There were a few star-caliber players whom the Cavs missed on, though, including Jamal Crawford, Paul George, and Jimmy Butler.
According to a report from Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY, LeBron James, like most of the team’s fans, is less than pleased with the current disorderly state of the Cavaliers, who are slated to pay nearly $210 million in salaries and luxury taxes for the 2017-18 season.
James, now entering his 15th season in the NBA, can become a free agent next summer, and speculation as to what he might choose to do (stay in Cleveland or go to another team) is already beginning to make rounds in every barber shop and corner bar.
Will the King stay with the Cavs, maybe even end his career here? Or will he elect to join the Los Angeles Lakers, like so many rumors have stated? While it’s true that he owns a house and several ongoing business interests in L.A., it’s probably safe to say that the King isn’t going to play for a team that doesn’t have a legitimate shot at winning a championship. A more likely scenario would see him staying with the Cavs, who, at least for now, are the top-dogs in the Eastern Conference.
“There is a healthy amount of skepticism that James will be willing to play for a team that, even with his addition, doesn’t seem like it will truly compete with the Golden State Warriors. Thus, making that move would end his consecutive NBA Finals streak end at eight — assuming, as the entire league suspects, his Cavaliers will make it back there again next June. This is why some could see James hanging on for at least another year in Cleveland to better survey what’s out there before jumping ship.”
As of today, there is not an analyst or reporter on Earth who knows James’ true intentions for next summer, but there are several contributing factors that could play a role in his decision, including family, legacy, and maybe even money.
“Based on a projected $102 million salary cap for 2018-19, James could re-sign with the Cavs for $209.4 million over five years, or an average of $42 million per year,” Greg Swartz writes in his recent article with Bleacher Report. “If he leaves for the Lakers, Clippers or anyone else, he can max out for $157.4 million over four years, an average of $39.4 million a season.
“Leaving $52 million on the table is a lot — even for James.”