LeBron James, the NBA’s most powerful player and biggest star who brought the Cleveland Cavaliers their first NBA championship, is concerned about the Cavaliers’ offseason, a person close to the situation told USA TODAY Sports.
Expecting an aggressive offseason approach that would close the gap on the champion Golden State Warriors, James soon found his anticipation and optimism diminished after Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert dismantled the front office, declining days before the draft and free agency to bring back general manager David Griffin and vice president of basketball operations Trent Redden.
Gilbert’s decision left the Cavs without the franchise’s top two front-office execs at a critical time, and it left James frustrated and concerned about the team’s ability to put together a roster that can better compete with Golden State, the person with direct knowledge of James’ thinking told USA TODAY Sports. The person was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.
James can become a free agent following the 2017-18 season, and it doesn’t take a wild imagination to see him elsewhere – especially if he feels there’s a better opportunity for him to win a championship with another team. The Lakers are mentioned as a possibility with James recruiting another star to join a young and talented core for the 2018-19 season.
Further exacerbating James’ frustration is the Cavs were close to making a deal for then-Chicago Bulls All-Star Jimmy Butler the day Gilbert decided to mutually part ways with Griffin and Redden, two people familiar with negotiations told USA TODAY Sports. They requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the negotiations.
As the Cavs try to regain the throne and with one season left before James can become a free agent next July, it’s clear that franchise-altering consequences are at stake.
Powering this speculation about James and his future is Gilbert’s handling of the front office. Other team executives and agents are asking: What’s going on with the Cavs?
In between the Cavs ousting their top two front-office guys, the New York Knicks fired Phil Jackson and promoted Steve Mills to president and hired Scott Perry as general manager. The Orlando Magic snatched Jeff Weltman from Toronto and John Hammond from Milwaukee to lead their front office.
Source: usa today