LeBron James is unhappy with the way the offseason has been going in Cleveland, adding new fuel to rumors that he will likely be on a new team by the time the 2018 season starts.
Those close to the team told USA Today that James is “frustrated and concerned” with the way his team has handled the offseason, from the departure of general manager David Griffin to the team’s lack of action in free agency. There had already been rampant reports that James was planning to spend one more season in Cleveland, taking another run at a title before bolting to Los Angeles where he makes his offseason home.
That departure now seems more likely than ever. James is able to opt out of his contract next season, and many expect him to do so.
New York Post writer Hannah Withlam noted that Cleveland has bumbled through a series of offseason blunders, including losing out on the Jimmy Butler sweepstakes as Butler reportedly balked at joining a team as unstable as the Cavaliers.
Withlam noted that LeBron’s decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers is likely already made.
But while the NBA rumors point to a departure for LeBron James, Cleveland.com writer Joe Vardon noted that all may not be as bad as it seems. He pointed out that the Cavaliers entered the offseason with virtually no cap room to make moves, so LeBron wouldn’t have been expecting too much action.
LeBron also has created some very close connections to the Northwestern Ohio area, including extensive charity work in Cleveland and his native Akron.
And with the Cavaliers still standing out in an otherwise very uncompetitive Eastern Conference, it may be difficult for him to leave town for a team that would have to go through the Golden State Warriors just to make the NBA Finals, Vardon wrote.
“Also, James has gone to seven consecutive Finals. If the streaks continues next June and the Cavs reach an eighth, he would be just two from tying Bill Russell’s record of 10 straight Finals berths.”
“If Cleveland is again blown out by the Warriors in the 2018 Finals, following a 4-1 defeat in 2017, it could weigh heavily on James’ mind. But such a hypothetical is literally 11 months away.”
And the mess in Cleveland this offseason may not mean much when the 2017-18 season starts. Cleveland is still far ahead of any other team in the East, and with more and more talent flocking West (including ongoing reports that the Houston Rockets are zeroing in on a trade for Carmelo Anthony), there is a good chance that the Cavaliers will be back in the Finals next year and could face a team that ran through a gauntlet of a Western Conference to get there.
But whether LeBron James remains on the Cleveland Cavaliers beyond that is up in the air.
[Featured Image by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]