The Cleveland Cavaliers went all the way to the Finals last season, and are currently sitting in first in the East with a 44-18 record. You would think that this is a cause to be upbeat and optimistic about the season and their chances of finally bringing a title to Cleveland. However, the trouble and conflicts seem to be brewing more and more as the season progresses.
First, there are reports coming from Stephen A. Smith of ESPN Radio that LeBron James could leave Cleveland again this summer. Via Stephen A. Smith:
One of the things LeBron’s inner circle religiously says is that, “Yeah, he’s back, but don’t you think for one second that he’s going to sit idly by and watch the franchise take him for granted and put too much excess weight on his shoulders the way that they used to when he was in Cleveland the first go-round. Think that he’s permanently going to stay in Cleveland if you want to. Do not try him.”
Yes, he is committed to trying to bring a championship back to Cleveland. And it does seem to be something that he would never do again. But don’t rule anything out when it comes to LeBron James.
I’m not saying this. I’m telling you specifically what I was told by people close to him, and I’ve been told that for months.
What everybody close to him continuously reminds me of is, “Don’t you dare take this guy for granted or think for one second he’s trapped into staying in Cleveland just because he came back. Don’t put it past him to get so annoyed that he’ll leave again if he feels like he’s being taken for granted, ran into the ground and essentially misused.” That’s what they say.
Cleveland has been a city teased and starved of a championship, especially when it comes to basketball. LeBron has led the Cavaliers to two Finals appearances, but hasn’t been able to bring it home. He leaves to go to Miami, and wins two of them in four tries. Now, if he left again, the city of Cleveland might just be in such an outrage there could be a riot.
There’s more cause for concern than just that report, though. There is also a report coming from Chris Mannix of the Vertical that there is virtually no on-court chemistry between Kyrie Irving and LeBron James. Via Chris Mannix:
Irving remains a dynamic scorer, but the disconnect between Irving and James is real, several scouts and coaches told The Vertical, with the on-court chemistry between the two, said one scout who saw Cleveland play recently, “basically nonexistent.” Team sources insist the relationship is solid, that James is simply teaching, trying to raise Irving’s basketball IQ. No one understands Irving’s importance more than James, team sources told The Vertical, which is why no one is working harder than James to get the two All-Stars on the same page.
Of course the team will say that the relationship is perfectly fine between the two stars, but seeing it break down on the court is still quite a telling sign. Also, this relates back to the Stephen A. Smith report because it means that LeBron is working twice as hard to be even better in his own right, as well as trying to teach Kyrie Irving how to be on his level. So, if the coaches and front office executives even hint at under-appreciating what LeBron is doing, that could be the final straw for him. He has given Cleveland everything he could possibly give, and they have yet to surround him with the personnel needed for a championship. LeBron isn’t getting any younger, he knows it, I know it, we all know it, so he will do whatever it takes to win before his window closes for good.