Dribbles: Making sense of the early LeBron madness

Random dribbles on LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the biggest free-agent decision of the summer.

1. Let’s actually start with LeBron James Jr. By now, you’ve heard the rumor that he’s enrolled in a Los Angeles high school. No, he’s not. LeBron Jr. is entering the eighth grade. He’s not enrolled in any high school. He is enrolled in a school … somewhere. But not a high school. So right away, that claim is shaky, at best.

2. Do I think the Los Angeles Lakers are in play? Sure. At least, it seems that way. So might be the Philadelphia 76ers, Houston Rockets and some of the other rumored destinations. But know this — all anyone is doing right now is guessing. That’s it. There are no facts. It’s just a guess.

3. This is James’ third big free-agency summer. The others came in 2010 and 2014. Both times, he was able to announce it just as he wished, without a legitimate big-name media member breaking it first. When it came to where LeBron was going to sign, LeBron was the person who broke the news.

4. But each time, the Twitterverse was full of “inside scoops” as to where LeBron was going to go. People just created stuff — and each time, some fake news started to make the rounds. Don’t believe any of it. LeBron is batting 1.000 at breaking the news himself. He and he alone is highly likely to break it again.

5. Everyone asks for my “gut feeling,” and I give them the same response every time. My gut sometimes tells me to drive to Taco Bell at 2 in the morning. It cannot be trusted.

6. My more serious answer is I truly believe it is the Cavs vs. the field, and I think the Cavs have the edge. It’s a slight edge — but any edge in this scenario can count for a lot.

7. LeBron has said repeatedly his family plays a “huge” role in career decisions. By that, he means his wife, kids, mother, closest friends, etc.

8. Keep in mind that some of James’ friends are on the Cavs’ payroll. Longtime buddy Randy Mims holds the job title of executive administrator, player programs and logistics. Another, Brandon Weems, is the team’s director of scouting. Both are smart men worthy of their positions. But would another team hire them to do the same?

9. Maybe. But maybe not, too.

10. I’m not saying it will be the only consideration, or anything close. Still, if you want LeBron, you may need to be willing to bring aboard those closest to him. Would Magic Johnson do that with the Lakers? Maybe. But maybe not, too.

11. My biggest problem with LeBron-to-the-Lakers is … drumroll, please … you guessed it, LaVar Ball.

12. Ball is the father of gifted Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball, and LaVar can be a pain in the You Know What. He publicly trashed Lakers coach Luke Walton last season. He never stops talking, criticizing and annoying many of those around him.

13. It’s true Ball is merely playing off the media and trying to build up his son while advancing his Big Baller Brand. But good intentions or not, he can be a distraction. He can create drama. And we all know drama seems to follow James wherever he goes.

14. That’s not me talking. Those words came from LeBron himself. So if you have LaVar drama … and LeBron drama … and Hollywood drama … oh man. I wouldn’t even want to think about it if I’m LeBron.

15. If I’m LeBron, I have to admit, the idea of playing for the Lakers would be tempting. They are the New York Yankees of the NBA, a traditionally strong franchise with a passionate and devoted fan base. But mention the words “LaVar Ball,” and frankly, I would think twice about moving my family near his.

16. LeBron is 33-years old. He’s accomplished so much. He is a once-in-a-generation talent. Last thing he needs is … well, someone blaming him every time the Lakers lose.

17. Will Lavar Ball be a factor in LeBron’s decision? I doubt it. If LeBron wants to go to LA, he’s going to LA. I just know if it were me, I would want no part of that circus.

18. As for the Rockets, LeBron did indeed say he’s not a fan of Houston. Would it keep him from wanting to live there? Maybe. But maybe not, too.

19.¬†Mostly, teams such as the Rockets and Boston Celtics would have to completely tear apart their rosters for LeBron. Why do that if you’re either team? The Rockets took the Golden State Warriors to seven games in the West finals, building a 3-2 lead with a healthy Chris Paul. And the Celtics did the same to the Cavs in the East, minus Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.

20. So would the Rockets or Celtics be willing to blow it all up and start over with LeBron? Maybe. But maybe not, too.

21. Meanwhile, the Sixers do have a nice core with the likes of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Like LeBron, Simmons is represented by agent Rich Paul. That said, LeBron has always seemed to prefer playing with older veterans who have won. Embiid and Simmons are on their way, but man, they are still oh so young.

22. And let’s remember, LeBron returned to the Cavs because they are “home.” It’s not like they were tearing up the league during his four years in Miami. Just the opposite. I think playing in his home region will still count for something.

23. The Cavs can also make some moves. That’s something that seems to be lost on the national pundits. I know, I know. They are in salary-cap hell. But guess what? I don’t care. Kevin Durant joined the Warriors. In this league, anything is possible, period.

24. The Cavs can draft a really nice prospect at No. 8 … then include that nice prospect in a trade. They will most definitely dangle Kevin Love. They will see what the market is for Jordan Clarkson, Cedi Osman and frankly, anyone not named LeBron.

25. I do suspect LeBron will wait and watch and talk to the likes of Paul, and perhaps Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George and San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard. One report said LeBron is likely to even reach out to Durant. I totally believe it.

26. There’s also a chance LeBron could simply pick up the option on his contract and wait until next summer for free agency. I doubt it, but you just never know. He has to make the Cavs aware of his decision by June 29.

27. If I’m the Cavs, I just go about building the best team possible. It’s what they did in 2014. They don’t need to do anything but hold on to the player they draft with the eighth pick. That’s what I suspect they will do. If they feel the need to trade the player after LeBron’s decision, they can do it in August, September, whenever.

28. So that’s it for now. That’s all I got. I’m not predicting where LeBron will go next, or if he will stay with the Cavs. I’m not believing too much of what I read about it. In about four weeks, we all know. Until then, it’s best just to try to wait patiently for LeBron to make his announcement. Based on history, he is the only man who can offer you the truth.

8 Comments on "Dribbles: Making sense of the early LeBron madness"

  1. ” If Im the Cavs, I just go about building the best possible team “. My question is which team are you building? The one with Lebron or the one without LeBron? Because they are two totally different teams that look polar opposites of each other depending on the decision 3.0.

  2. Thomas Nguyen | June 14, 2018 at 7:00 am |

    Thank you for not writing meaningless rampant speculation like what you see on pretty much every other NBA news site.

  3. LeBron should stay in Cleveland he knows what he has here. Whatever happens, Cavs should not trade the pick. If LeBron stays this pick will allow the Cavs to sign an all star in 2years. He will still be on his rookie contract and other dead weight will be off the books. Why can’t a Cavs rookie make meaningful contributions like the GSW rookies?. Every all-star was once an NBA rookie it is up to the team that drafted them. Next season with LeBron, Love, rookie and a different coach the Cavs can be competitive. The problem this season has been Lues inability to make in-game adjustment both in schemes and rotation along with not benching JR Smith. Playing LeBron so many mins and him taking time off on defense made the team unprepared for the finals. 29th in defense is not going to win the finals. The Cavs are not as far off as the bad coaching made it seem. The 9-1 team led by Drew was far different than the one that played in the playoffs.

  4. Having read Antoine Walker’s “crazy” prediction a couple weeks ago that LeBron would go to Boston, it now seems like the absolute best option for him. Boston can give Gordon Hayward to the Cavs. Boston has the new best coach in the NBA, they have a trove of future picks, they could land Anthony Davis in 2 years, maybe less. They can get rid of Kyrie for a massive haul or someone like Damian Lillard. It’s a no brainer. The perfect fit.

    LeBron’s wife and kids are not going to influence him. They can move. He can pass Jordan and almost every other player’s records in Boston. And most importantly, he can destroy the Warriors. That’s what I want to see more than anything. If he stays in Cleveland, he will never win another ring, in my opinion. When LeBron broke his hand after Game One, that was the last straw for him.

    • I don’t care about any other team than the Cavs. I could care less what the warriors are doing. That said, it’s best for James to stay here for all the reasons already stated. Also, Boston would have to dump a lot more than just Hayword to get James. And it behooves me to wonder why in Larry Bird’s name would Boston want an end of the career super max player to play with an already very talented young core? James is an ISO and pick and roll(pop) player. Period. Boston has a system in place. Also, would Boston take on James’ buddies that are in the FO in Cleveland? That’s most likely what it’d take. There’s also the point the Ainge would have to go along with what James wants and I don’t think that’s going to happen. If it does, that’ll be the dumbest thing Boston has done in a long, long time.

      • The Cavs are loaded with horrible, bloated contracts that no one wants. Do you really want to see another season of Lue, TT, JR, George Hill, K-Love, Korver? Another season of terrible defense? Another sweep by the Warriors even if LeBron takes them to the Finals? It’s depressing.

        They are going to get whooped next year with this team. The Cavs are stuck and they have no shot. I want to see LeBron pass Jordan. This Finals was the nail in the coffin. It’s time to blow the whole thing up. You are right: Boston will have to pony up Hayward, Morris, Yabusele and a first round pick or two. If LeBron leaves for NOTHING, then where are the Cavs? Back in the lottery just like last time. At least you can salvage the team with Hayward for 2 years and the picks.

        As for Boston, yeah, why on Earth would they want the biggest star in all of sports, the greatest basketball player of all time? Make no sense, huh?

        • Hey Todd. Not trying to attack you but your comment spurred something that has been bothering me that i think needs thought about. I have seen some Lebron leaves and CAVS get nothing comments. With repeater tax, if Lebron leaves it saves cavs i think about 120 million. Lebron is worth 120 to franchise; Hayward or anyone else is not. 120 ain’t nothing y’all. Keep in mind when people make up trades for Lebron. Like Phila trading 10 pick and bayless–10 pick aint worth 40 million.

          • Well said, Joy, and you make a good, rational point. That is definitely something to consider on the Cavs’ end of things.

            I think right now we are all wondering how this thing is going to shake out and,as fans, we all have different priorities. The good thing is that we are all going to find out very soon! I love the NBA off-season, all the rumors, speculation, and surprises. I have a feeling we are going to see some amazing changes this summer. Have fun!

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