Did you guys hear? LeBron James is totally, 100%, without a doubt, you-can’t-convince-me-otherwise-even-if-you-tried leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers next summer. He’s going to the Los Angeles Lakers, as proven both by his reported frustration with Cleveland’s dull summer and his taking in a summer league game featuring Lonzo Ball, who’s already the best player the NBA has ever seen…
Welcome to the last week of my life, and the lives of anyone else who follows Cleveland sports.
National media has run wild lately with continued reasoning as to why James is leaving upon his contract expiration next summer. Everyone seems to be finding examples proving James’ 2018 departure is all but certain.
I’m asked my thoughts about the rumors on a daily basis. Do I think he’s leaving again? Did I happen to see James’ Instagram post on Ball’s shoes? Did I read the USA Today article about his frustrations with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert?
Yes. Sure did. You bet.
And you know what? I really don’t care. I would encourage all other Cleveland fans to take the same approach.
I’m not fretting about the rumors. I’m not panicking about the reported frustration. I’m not going to spend the entire year trying to debunk every single “he’s going to be a Laker” article or tweet that gets published.
We’re talking about something which can’t come into fruition until eleven months from now. You want me to be stressing about this? You want me to skip ahead of the upcoming season because it totally doesn’t matter, since James is clearly already packing his bags?
Sorry, I just don’t have the patience to deal with it. Not again.
Cavs fans already spent the majority of James’ first tenure in Cleveland venting against every rumor claiming he was fleeing for greener pastures. All it did was distract them from the fact the Cavs were contending.
Freaking out about every rumbling on LA or James’ unhappiness will only do the same, as fans will spend more time worrying about media narratives than enjoying Cleveland’s window of contention while it’s still here.
As for the rumors themselves, I’m very aware James could leave next summer. I’m also not going to pretend it won’t happen, regardless of how much money the Cavs can offer. Such is life.
However, it’s difficult for me to sympathize too much about James’ being frustrated with Cleveland’s summer.
Sure, Gilbert letting GM David Griffin walk, then proceeding to get stood up by Chauncey Billups is a massive blunder. Additionally, the Jose Calderon signing remains a head-scratcher.
Outside of this, just what exactly was James expecting the Cavs to do this offseason?
The fact is the Cleveland was never in a position to counter a Kevin Durant-to-the-Golden State Warriors kind of move. Trading for Paul George or Jimmy Butler would’ve resulted in losing Kevin Love, the team’s best rebounder and scoring big by a mile. There’s minimal cap space, preventing the Cavs from making any sort of splashy free agent signings.
Are you trying to tell me James would be far more likely to stay had the Cavs signed Jamal Crawford (age 37) instead of Cedi Osman (age 22)?
If James is indeed upset about all of this, he should be willing to shoulder some of the blame for Cleveland’s current predicament. Part of the reason the Cavs are in cap hell is because two of his teammates – J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson – received above-market contracts thanks to their being members of Klutch Sports, an agency run by James’ childhood friend Rich Paul.
James has continued to push Cleveland’s front office to spend whatever it takes. It did, and now it has no cap space and contracts which won’t get any traction on the trade market.
I don’t imagine James will be admitting some responsibility for the Cavs’ current issues. However, it’s difficult to hear word of his frustration without bringing this issue to light.
Regardless, we’re going to hear more and more about it from here on out. With every curious Cleveland loss, with every veiled comment, with every sign of adversity, the national media is going to keep piling it on to its “he’s out of here” narrative.
Griping about it won’t make it go away. As a result, I refuse to get overly wrapped up every time another development gets published across the next year.
At the end of the day, I have no idea if James is staying or bailing next summer. If he does leave, then so be it. Provided he does it in a classy way, all Cleveland fans can say is “this sucks, but thanks for the championship.”
Until it happens, I’m not going to over-analyze his social media posts and wonder how they play into rumors of his departure. I’d advise you do the same. It’s all only going to get louder from here.
Casey Drottar is an independent sports writer. Subscribe to his podcast, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook
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