July 11, 2014 was the day that the “King” would be returning to his home state. When LeBron James made the announcement he would be signing a free agent contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, it made the hard-luck city ecstatic. The Beast of the East would now be the Lebron-led Cavaliers. Hysteria ran rampant. Those who famously burned their James jerseys when he famously made “The Decision” to play for the Miami Heat in 2010 went out and bought their new “King James” jersey. All was forgotten.
All was well. Cleveland ended up making the NBA Finals in 2015, only to lose in 6 games to the Golden State Warriors and MVP Steph Curry. While Cleveland has been the best team in the East this year everything has not been smooth. Right before the All-Star break, Head Coach David Blatt was fired. Assistant Tyronn Lue was named his replacement and immediately given a long-term contract extension.
The person behind the firing of Blatt was none other than Lebron James. Everyone in the NBA knows James runs the franchise and gets what he wants. So Blatt was let go and James got his guy in Lue. There have been rumblings that James and All-Star Point Guard Kyrie Irving also do not see eye to eye. Kevin Love, the guy James insisted on the Cavaliers trading for last season has been good, but is nowhere near matching the production he was putting up while with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The number 1 pick the Cavaliers had to give Minnnesota to get Love ended up being Andrew Wiggins. You think James would like to have that trade back? We do. Wiggins would be a much better fit in Cleveland than Love, who’s game has now regressed to being a 6’10” Power Forward who sits on the perimeter and shooting 3-pointers. Irving has battled injuries this season and while supremely talented, he has not played up to his performance of previous seasons.
While Cleveland currently sports a 56-23 and are clearly the best team in the NBA, it has been a year of trepidation. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. LeBron was going to come back to his hometown state and win multiple NBA championships. Well, things don’t always work out that way, even for the world’s best player.
The only Eastern Conference team standing in their way of making another NBA finals appearance seems to be the Toronto Raptors. Led by the dynamic duo of All-Stars Kyle Lowry and Demar DeRozan, the Raptors are clearly the 2nd best team in the Eastern Conference. However, they seem to be 1 player away from seriously challenging Cleveland now and in the future. That is if LeBron James stays right where he is.
LEBRON GIVING HINTS HE WANTS OUT OF CLEVELAND?
James has made no secret of his feelings this year. A few weeks ago, New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony stated it would be great to make a “foursome”. He was talking about himself, Chris Paul, Dwayne Wade ,and yes, LeBron James. While that may be unrealistic, James probably has second thoughts about coming back to Cleveland.
I personally feel LeBron is in Cleveland to stay. How can he possibly leave this city again? Or can he? The 2016 free agency class will be the most talented of all time and with the salary cap increasing, star players will be joining forces, but where? Cleveland? It is doubtful any star player will want to sign a long-term contract there. While Kyrie Irving has been an All-Star PG before, him and James have had their fair share of disagreements.
Kevin Love? I’m sure James would rather have Wiggins and there were multiple rumors right before the trade deadline that he was on the trading block. Nobody on the Cleveland roster would be on the trading block before it being run through LeBron. Remember, he runs this franchise and was the one who pushed the organization’s front office to make the deal for Love. Due to Wiggins emergence as a future superstar it looks like that is a trade everyone in Cleveland wishes they had back.
CAN THEY BEAT THE WESTERN CONFERENCE POWER?
The Cavaliers are more than likely going to come out of the Eastern conference and head to the NBA finals. Standing in their way will be a team most likely superior than them. The Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs are the 2 best teams and most likely 1 of them will head to the Finals. The Warriors and Spurs, respectively are more talented and better coached then Cleveland.
However, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love missed last year’s finals against Golden State with injuries. Can a healthy Irving and Love along with James be enough to overthrow whichever Western Power they would face? Maybe. However, it is imperative that the Big 3 get help from their teammates.
Mercurial SG J.R. Smith (12.4pts) will have to play team basketball. He is capable of shooting a team to a win. He is also capable of shooting a team out of a game. Center Tristan Thompson received a lucrative long-term extension in the off-season based mostly off his post-season play last year. He must be a factor rebounding and defending in the playoffs and NBA Finals.
The Cavaliers have mostly a 7 man rotation. Look for James, Irving, and Love to play big minutes in the playoffs, especially during the Eastern Conference and NBA Finals. It is imperative all 3 stay healthy for the stretch run. This might be the last time you see these 3 wearing the same uniform together.
STATISTICS FOR THE CAVALIERS BIG 3
LeBRON JAMES: 25pts, 7.5reb, 6.8ast (74 games played)
KYRIE IRVING: 19.5pts, 2.9reb, 4.6ast (51 games played)
KEVIN LOVE: 16.1pts, 9.8reb, 2.4ast (75 games played)
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS FOR CLEVELAND AND LeBRON????
These NBA playoffs are vital to the Cleveland Cavaliers organization, fans and city. If they don’t win an NBA title, does the prodigal son leave town again? In an era where NBA “friends” want to play together, who knows. Let’s hope for the sake of Cleveland, Ohio James doesn’t walk away again. This time you can be sure he won’t be welcomed back.
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