Latest posts by Sam Amico (see all)
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CLEVELAND — Random dribbles on the state of the Cleveland Cavaliers following their 4-0 series loss to the Golden State Warriors in the Finals.
1. Where will LeBron James play next season? I don’t know, you don’t know and I’m not so sure he does, either.
2. This free agency just feels different than The LeBron Decisions of 2010 and 2014. It doesn’t have that grand appeal and feel. Maybe it’s because James and the Cavs have been to four straight Finals. Maybe it’s because LeBron and the Cavs won it all in 2016. Or maybe it’s because pro basketball in Cleveland will go on, with or without LeBron. We learned that when he left the first time.
3. That’s not to downplay the impact James has on the franchise and local economy. My first day covering the NBA on a full-time basis was the day James announced he was leaving for the Miami Heat. How’s that for a first day on the job?
4. Anyway, I quickly became the losingest beat writer in pro hoops — as the Cavs went on to compile four terrible years while the Heat advanced to play for championship after championship, winning two in that span. But LeBron’s absence impacted more than just the team. It could also be felt in downtown restaurants and bars. Cleveland was often like a ghost town after Cavs games without LeBron. But with LeBron in uniform, the Cavs and Cleveland are a happening.
5. That is what makes the past four years so special. It’s true the Cavs only won one of the four titles for which they competed. But man … four straight years in the Finals … LeBron being as good as (or maybe better than) ever at the age of 33 … the Cavs giving their fans tons of fun … the list goes on and on. Only the Golden State Warriors have reason to be more proud.
6. In other words, if you’re the Cavs and their fans, I hope you enjoyed it and didn’t get too caught up in the occasional frustrations and losses.
7. As for where LeBron goes next, I have no clue. I can’t get a feel for it. I think there are plenty of reasons for him to stay in Cleveland — the supermax contract, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert’s willingness to spend, the moves that can still be made.
8. Yes, the Cavs really can make some moves. They have the No. 8 draft pick and Kevin Love. I’m not saying the Cavs need to trade either. But the possibility does exist that they could move one, or both. I have little doubt each will be included in offseason trade talks.
9. My only hope, for LeBron’s sake, is he lets the Cavs know before the draft if he plans to return. It will make the Cavs’ efforts to build around him considerably easier. And if he’s coming back, it would be in his best interest.
10. That said, I doubt it happens. I don’t think LeBron will let anyone know until he’s good and ready.
11. So if I’m Gilbert and Cavs general manager Koby Altman, I just go about building the best and most sustainable roster as possible. As my friend and Medina Gazette reporter Rick Noland said, with or without LeBron this team is likely to look a lot different next season.
12. I’m not going to get into the different places LeBron could go and which spots other than the Cavs might make sense. Not today, anyway. Though I will drop this clue — I think Cleveland remains the best place for James.
13. He came back because Northeast Ohio is “home.” That, combined with his family, is what I think stands a good chance to keep him here. The Cavs just need to improve the roster as much as possible. That can be done, and yes, even if it means getting LeBron’s input.
14. Also, I have a hunch LeBron and his Klutch Sports team would like to own at least a piece of the Cavs someday. That transition would probably be easier if he plays out his career here.
15. If LeBron doesn’t return, I would just cut J.R. Smith. You would still have to pay him and his salary would still count toward the cap. Smith is an OK guy, but his inconsistency and lack of focus aren’t traits you’d want around a rebuilding situation.
16. I don’t know about Tyronn Lue as coach, either. My first reaction is to part ways. But Lue is still under contract. If LeBron leaves, is it really worth bringing in another new coach? I’m leaning toward yes, as Lue’s rotations and in-game management were questionable at best this season. But perhaps Gilbert would just roll with things and see how Lue does without the drama a superstar brings. I honestly don’t know.
17. Other than that, Altman and his staff will be working the phones and taking calls — with Love and that pick being other teams’ highest priorities. Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker is undoubtedly available. San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard might be, too. Those and any other conversations are likely to take place closer to the June 21 draft.
18. Finally, we at Amico Hoops will be tracking and posting it all, or at least the stuff with some relevance. It doesn’t mean we are in total support of what’s being written. But if an expert in the industry writes or says he or she hears LeBron may join the Dallas Mavericks … we will post it.
19. Just don’t shoot the messenger. We understand this will be an annoying time for some fans. But our job is to round up information and pass it along for our readers to digest. As always, we appreciate you coming along for the ride.