By Eduardo Monk Jr
LeBron James has the city of Cleveland in the palm of his hand. He’s the King of the entire league since the LeBron era began in 2003. Yeah, he burned the city for Miami in 2010. He made his triumphant return in 2014 and finally delivered on his promise to bring a Finals to the Land in 2015 and, despite getting manhandled by the Warriors this past season, he still continues to be a global basketball icon nearly worshipped by the city of Cleveland.
However, something cracked in the system of Cavaliers basketball. After the abrupt firing of long time general manager David Griffin and the Kyrie Irving fiasco wearing on for far too long, rumors are a-blazing that LeBron wants out of his hometown-again.
Even though this really is nothing new as LeBron has proven to be a win first player. He has shown us time and time again he goes only where he can win. And with the inception of the Big Four Warriors taking this league by storm, Cleveland is suddenly borderline powerless to stop them.
And this is officially a very scary place to be in for the franchise and their fans. LeBron can opt out of his contract after this season and, with his clear tendencies and according to countless rumors, probably will if the Cavs lose to, say, the Boston Celtics in the Conference Finals or get blasted by the Warriors two years in a row.
Now it’s obvious the Cavaliers are doing whatever is possible to convince him to stay. They shook up the roster and moved Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and a decent supply of picks. They brought in the 2011 MVP Derrick Rose for sixth man purposes. It’s a LeBron wants, LeBron gets mentality for the Cavaliers now.
And while there’s nothing wrong with that, it does beg the question is all of this enough? What else can Koby Altman do to swoon LeBron into staying a Cavalier?
There’s no doubt keeping LeBron is of the utmost importance. He is Cleveland basketball personified. The city is universally considered to be a total abyss of depression and the sports there have only followed suit.
The Cavs were consistently a bottom feeder pre-LeBron. The Browns haven’t even been respectable since the 1960s and the Indians recently blew a 3-1 lead in the World Series to the Cubs. LeBron IS the city’s sports pride. He is everything Cleveland has to cheer.
Losing him would otherwise kill the Cavaliers. Yeah, the team wouldn’t go completely under as the aforementioned Thomas and Kevin Love would be able to keep them competitive in a soft Eastern Conference. But if we’re being honest, the city would lose all joy and hope in the sports world while Cleveland sports as a whole would lose any respectability they once had.
So any move they make from here on out, no matter how desperate, is completely warranted. But what moves should they be making? It’s an absolute must to keep LeBron in Cleveland and really the only way how is put together enough talent around him to convince him he can still win.
Here are a few moves Cleveland must make in an attempt to keep LeBron around for the future.
Sign Dwyane Wade
A potential buyout from the Bulls has been rumored for months now but for good reason. The veteran shooting guard is on barely holding onto his last leg and there’s no doubt his career is waning fast. He’s still a capable starter but an aging vet is the last thing a rebuilding team like the Bulls wants to gut out 23 million a year for
From a basketball standpoint, it’s a wasteful signing as his value has dropped significantly from his last All-Star season in 2015.
But when it comes to a LeBron standpoint, the two are as close as it gets. They’ve been friends since being drafted in 2003 and the relationship only grew through their Big Three time in Miami.
If Cleveland wants to keep LeBron around, giving him his best friend to play with could be exactly what the doctor ordered.
And speaking of friendships…
Trade with New York Knicks
Kevin Love for Carmelo Anthony
This move has nearly the same logic as the Dwyane Wade signing. However, with this move, the Cavs bring one of the most prolific offensive players in the game, especially when he’s in Hoodie mode. That added offensive pop is going to be imperative as now the usual second scorer Kyrie Irving is a Celtic and Isaiah Thomas’s hip is close to falling off.
Love has never been bad but because of their friendship, LeBron would be a whole lot happier playing with one of his closest friends.
Trade with Portland Trail Blazers
Iman Shumpert, JR Smith, future first for CJ McCollum
Desperate? Probably. But the Cavs frontcourt officially has no one to stand up with the Warriors’ arsenal of Curry and Klay. Who knows how good Thomas will be after his supposedly serious hip ailment and both Smith and Shumpert were a total liability during their 4-1 loss to the Warriors in the Finals.
Packaging them together for a rising star in CJ McCollum is perfect for improving the team to keep them competitive. On top of that, McCollum fits in the timeline of the NBA perfectly. The Warriors will be dominant for at least four more seasons. By then CJ will only be 29, right in the latter half of his prime with at least five more seasons of productivity.
McCollum was a consistent 23 point scorer last season with a ton of room to grow. Playing alongside one of the greats in basketball will only make him better in the future. The 2015 Most Improved is quickly blossoming into among the top scoring threats in the league. Pairing him alongside LeBron lessens the scoring pressure, something Cleveland desperately needs.