LeBron James has not been happy of late. The Cavs have lost three straight and six of their last eight games, including a 116-112 overtime loss to the lowly Kings on Wednesday night that saw them get viciously trolled by the Kings Twitter account after the game.
The losing streak has prompted James to voice his frustrations with the team’s lack of depth on multiple occasions to the media, and he even subtweeted the Cavs front office. There’s no secret to the fact that James is not pleased with the current situation in Cleveland, but ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reports that there are differences of opinion between James and owner Dan Gilbert about the team’s spending that has caused a strain on their relationship.
Currently, the Cavs (30-14) are committed to $127.6 million in salaries and $27 million in luxury taxes for this season. They have spent more than any other NBA team over the three-year span.
James, however, has grown frustrated. He perceives that the Cavaliers have slowed new spending after winning their first championship, sources said.
Cavs general manager David Griffin told Windhorst that he felt James’ recent comments, especially his tweet about whether the Cavs’ goals were still to win championships, were way off.
“The comment about the organization being complacent I think is really misguided,” Griffin said. “Organizationally, there is absolutely no lack of clarity on what our goal set is. We are here to win championships. … Anyone insinuating that this organization is about anything other than that would deeply upset me because ownership has invested in this at an absolutely historic level.”
The Cavs have indeed spent more than any other team, however James has valid points about the roster being bleak beyond the starting lineup. Part of the problem is the Cavs have spent most of their money on the likes of James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson (who was given a massive contract at the urging of James) and JR Smith (now injured).
That spending resulted in a championship, but when Matthew Dellavedova went out of the Cavs price range, the backup point guard situation became an unresolved issue that has fallen into the hands of young players who aren’t ready. JR Smith’s injury has compounded the issue, and there isn’t another veteran on the roster with the capability of running the offense behind Irving and James. Simply put, Iman Shumpert, at $9.7 million, is not a tenable option.
James isn’t wrong in pointing out flaws in the Cavs roster construction, and while Gilbert and company might point to the luxury tax bill, the roster simply isn’t built to mitigate damages caused by injuries. Until Smith returns from his thumb injury or a trade gets made, these tensions between James and management are probably going to continue.