The Cleveland Cavaliers have had quite the eventful offseason, as the reigning Eastern Conference champs have watched as their once stable foundation began crumbling in a sudden and somewhat shocking fashion. Kyrie Irving’s trade request represents the first massive chunk of that foundation breaking off, but there’s potential that a much bigger piece could be leaving soon as well.
LeBron James will be an unrestricted free agent in 2018, and reports have trickled out over the summer months that he will genuinely consider leaving Cleveland again now that he’s fulfilled his promise to break his home city’s championship drought. The Cavs are reportedly concerned enough about a potential departure of their top star, they are now focusing Irving trade talks on bringing in a young star and assets to kickstart a rebuild if it becomes necessary next summer.
There have been mixed opinions about the likelihood of James’ departure, with some feeling it’s still most likely he finishes his career out in Cleveland while others truly believe he’ll be headed to L.A. (or possibly elsewhere) come next July.
Among those you can count in that latter category is Chris Sheridan, who reported on Wednesday an NBA source telling him James will be “100 percent leaving” Cleveland next year.
Now, the first thing is to consider the source and recognize that it’s one anonymous NBA source stating this — which could mean any number of people. Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon said he spoke with members of James’ camp who disputed Sheridan’s source.
In either case, this adds fuel to the fire that has been stoked by months of reports that James has one eye on Los Angeles for 2018. The recent Adrian Wojnarowski report saying the Cavaliers have gotten no assurances from James either way and are handling Irving trade talks with an eye to the future suggests that Cleveland understands James leaving is a very real possibility.
James’ relationship with Dan Gilbert has never been a strong one, and some, like Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher, have speculated there may be more off court strain put on their relationship due to Gilbert’s support of Donald Trump as James has become more vocal against Trump recently.
Whether politics or basketball or business, Cleveland fans hoping James’ second run with the Cavaliers would be another lengthy one must now enter the 2017-18 season dreading what could be on the horizon. There is plenty of smoke signaling James exiting won’t be all that unlikely, even if James’ camp dismisses Sheridan’s report.