I’ve made my stance on the LeBron James rumors pretty clear throughout the summer. I don’t think it’s worth the time to stress about the fact the Cleveland Cavaliers star is in the final year of his contract. If this is indeed James’ last season with the team, I don’t intend to spend it fretting about his departure. I’d much rather just sit back and enjoy the fact the Cavs are contenders while I can.
Said stance proves more difficult to hold with every passing day. I find people jump at the chance to send me the latest tweets proclaiming James’ exit is extremely likely, dying to see me go into some tirade laced with panic and expletives.
Take this bit Chris Sheridan shared yesterday, the latest chapter in “he’s leaving and there’s nothing you can say to convince me otherwise.”
Naturally, such an emphatic statement elicited plenty of reaction. People were quick to validate it, simply because Sheridan was the one who broke the news of James’ return to Cleveland a few days before it actually came true. Surely he’s plugged in enough to trust. If he says James is a goner, Cavs fans might as well start accepting this outcome now.
Words can’t express how exasperated I am having to type the following sentence, but it sadly feels necessary to respond this way to Sheridan’s news and any other note about James’ plans for next summer. Simply put, the idea James has already decided what he’s going to do eleven months from now is ridiculous.
You can call out how credible the source of this latest rumor is all you want. You can note how emphatic said rumor is, the certainty which comes with the phrase “100% leaving.”
It doesn’t change my mind in the slightest. That James’ mind is already made up this far in advance just doesn’t make any sense.
I’ll hardly pretend this has been any sort of a successful offseason for the Cavs. It’s been littered with plenty of bad publicity, and the team is still dealing with the drama from Kyrie Irving trade request. It’d be foolish to assume James hasn’t been frustrated by everything that’s gone down.
At the same time, I still struggle to believe he’s already made up his mind about life after this upcoming season.
We’re talking about a player who carefully thinks through every single move he makes, both on the court and off it. It’s been well documented how everything James does is calculated from every angle.
Yet we’re to believe he’s already decided he’s leaving Cleveland? Before he even sees how far the Cavs can go this year? Heck, before even seeing what the team can net in an Irving trade?
Also lost in all the craziness is why James would be willing to tease the belief this year is simply a farewell tour. If James is indeed willing to float the idea his exodus is imminent, wouldn’t this deter the Cavs from trying to win now? Wouldn’t it shift their goal from gunning for a championship to preparing for life after LeBron?
If they did this, suddenly the team would be criticized for wasting its final year with James instead of trying to win a title while he’s in town. Cleveland would be raked over the coals for passively playing out the upcoming season, wasting a year of potential contention because it assumes James is on the way out.
All in all, it feels ridiculous to get caught up in the idea James has already made his decision, that his leaving is officially a foregone conclusion. This isn’t to deny the possibility or likelihood of his departure. For all I know, he could indeed be in another team’s uniform in 2018.
Instead, I’m simply shrugging off the idea he’s made up his mind a good year before he can officially make a decision. I feel the same way about Sheridan’s tweet as I do about Cleveland beat writer Joe Vardon’s claiming this report was false.
James may be leaning a certain direction, sure, but I refuse to get stressed out about stories claiming he’s officially a goner. There’s still a long way to go before he has all the information he needs to make such a decision in the first place.