Amico: Is this final act for LeBron, this version of Cavs?

LeBron James and the Cavaliers will try to get past Jayson Tatum and the Celtics in Game 7 of the East finals.

For LeBron James and the Cavaliers, this could be it.

This could be the season. This could be the end of another James era. This could be the final act of an amazing run of pro basketball in Cleveland.

It’s Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Sunday night, against the Celtics, in Boston. Tipoff is 8:30 p.m. The winner is East champion. The loser is left to figure out what to do with the offseason.

Win or lose, it could also mean the end of Tyronn Lue and power forward Kevin Love with the Cavs. But almost definitely the end of Lue as coach with a loss.

Lue has been exposed a little without Kyrie Irving. He has struggled with in-game adjustments, rotations and getting the players to play with passion during the regular season. Those regular-season issues are why the Cavs are playing on someone else’s floor in the biggest game of the year.

But Lue brushed them off with comments such as, “I still believe we’re the best team in the East.” We’re about to find out if he’s right. Still, no one really wanted to hear it. Members of the organization and fans just wanted a team that consistently played hard, a team of which they could be proud.

The drama that comes with being LeBron’s coach seems to have gotten the best of Lue. He missed time with what appeared to be stressed-related health issues. It would not be surprising if Lue and the Cavs were to amicably part ways after the season, perhaps via a contract buyout.

That’s not any insider information — merely a gut feeling. Lue seems to have had enough of the drama, and the Cavs seem to have had enough of Lue.

The same goes for Love.

He is hurt at the most important time of year — again. It always seems to work out this way for Love.

That’s not to say he is faking the need to go through the concussion protocol for a fourth time, which is where he is today. But injuries aside, he has become known as a soft player, a weak defender and someone who too often shrinks when the heat and pressure rise.

The Cavs will miss Love in Game 7. But everyone knows they could still win without him.

It may be time to move on, and you can be absolutely certain the Cavs will try (again) with attempts at summer trades.

KING OF CLEVELAND HOOPS

But all of this doesn’t compare to the narrative surrounding James, a narrative that he himself creates, and despite his attempts to downplay it, a narrative he thoroughly enjoys.

Will he stay or will he go, the entire basketball-loving universe is dying to know.

James is expected to enter free agency in July. He can sign with any other team, and put himself in perhaps a better situation, saying goodbye to Cleveland a second time.

Of course, he could also end the speculation by telling the Cavs and public of his intentions — especially if his decision is to return. It would make the Cavs’ attempts to build around him considerably easier.

But that’s not the LeBron way.

Instead, he will leave everyone to guess, because that keeps him at the center of the sports world. It builds the brand.

And frankly, with the way James has carried this franchise and this league, he has earned the right to handle free agency as he sees fit. Because of LeBron, the NBA will be most of this summer’s biggest sports story.

At 33 years old, he is still the best player in the league. He gives the Cavs hope that they could actually pull off a basketball miracle in Boston.

And who knows? Maybe he will sign another one-year contract with the Cavs — and do this all over again next season.

MAKEOVER ON WAY

No matter what happens with James, or Lue, or Love, the Cavaliers will march on. They will field a team next year. There will be pro basketball in Cleveland. That alone is always reason for celebration.

But there will be changes, likely major ones, even if James stays.

Team owner Dan Gilbert and general manager Koby Altman have admired Boston in this series. The Celtics always play hard, play smart and really get after it on defense. They are a team that’s very in tune with their coach.

That is the type of unit the Cavs want to assemble. They know it will be easier if LeBron comes back. But they are prepared to build it the right way even if he departs.

Now, the Cavs could certainly win Sunday, delaying all these questions for another day. J.R. Smith, George HillJeff Green or Kyle Korver could spring to life on the road. James could save the day. A fourth straight trip to the Finals could happen.

But if not, buckle up. The offseason will be here, and everything will start again for the Cavs.

7 Comments on "Amico: Is this final act for LeBron, this version of Cavs?"

  1. Mitchell L Schwartz | May 27, 2018 at 12:02 pm |

    Why do you think Lue is “definitely gone” with a loss? I hear NBA analysts, include David Griffin, praise him often.

    • Wake UP, Mitchell, You are IN a dream. LUE IS AWLFUL. You can even see it….Deer in the headlights look tells it all. Duh, “we just need to be more physical.” NO PLAN ALL YEAR-just watch Lebron dribble-dribble-shoot/pass, No real basketball plays, no timely time-outs when opposition suddenly has great momentum-until they have 12-15pts ahead,,, No practices???????? “we don’t need to practice” ??? AND IT SHOWED.
      Squirrelliest coach in the NBA. As a team, the CAVS were 90%- 9 & 1 without him, & with him, up & down all year. ???? Larry Drew did SO much better. YES LUE-ser should be GONE.

  2. sam casermol | May 27, 2018 at 1:31 pm |

    the cavs have been far more lucky than smart for years.. they lucked out with the # 1s (re lebron, kyrie, wiggins, and of course bennett).. but then they proceded to blow one of them.. hmm.. bennett or olidipo? You just don’t blow a #1.. unforgiveable.. hmm.. waiters or lillard? thompson or valanciunas? sad, very sad..

    and then there are the errors of impatience (or stupidity).. joe harris comes to mind

    finally.. let’s trade kyrie to the celtics (who are young, very well-coached, smart GM, able to bring in free agents (hayward).. and loaded with many more 1st round picks over the next several years).. for who? an injured midget, a 2nd tier forward, a rook, and wait for it.. the wonderful “brooklyn” pick, which looks like trae young..

    and of course LBJ is going to sign up for another campaign because of trae young..

    see ya later LBJ.. thx for the memories.. go out there and catch that ghost.. you can do it, if you haven’t already

    • Which team can Lebron ‘catch that ghost’? So far CAVS have won Kyrie trade. When Kyrie helps Boston to a finals, then reevaluate. Kyrie turned into Clarkson,Hood,Zizic,pick. 4 potential nba starters.

  3. sam casermol | May 27, 2018 at 1:44 pm |

    Oh, and one more thing.. bird used to talk about taking his 700 practice shots a day (800 if he though about how many magic was taking).. apocryphal? true? who knows.. but i will offer that none of the “coasters” on the cavs do anything approximating that work ethic.. otherwise, wouldn’t they get better? with practice comes “brain power” new neural connections that hardwire the whole thing.. and make it “automatic”.. steph curry anyone? practice does make perfect.. sloth, laziness and check cashin’ don’t..

    consistency suggests that the hard work is being done.. inconsistency suggests that it is not.. JR, TT, JC, RH.. and on and on.. sorry.. the product ain’t worth buying

  4. I encourage everyone to shut out the questions and anxiety and speculation tonight. Just enjoy one of the best ever against one of the best coaches playing the greatest sport ever created. Lets go CAVS!!!

  5. Brett A Bland | May 28, 2018 at 12:56 am |

    Well said Sam!

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