The departure of LeBron James in Cleveland was something most people expected when the Cavaliers were swept by the Golden State Warriors to win back-to-back NBA championship titles. With James’ goal to add more Larry O’Brien Trophy to his collection, Cleveland is no longer an ideal place for him to stay.
When the 2018 NBA free agency started, it only took two days before LeBron James made his much-awaited decision. The best basketball player on the planet parted ways the Cavaliers and signed a four-year deal worth $153.3 million with the Los Angeles Lakers. Unlike his first departure, most people in Cleveland didn’t show any hard feelings for James when he left his hometown team.
LeBron has already fulfilled his promise to bring an NBA championship title in Cleveland, and even Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman believes James “deserved” to make his own decision. However, Altman also admitted that he felt a “level of hurt” when he first heard about James’ free agency decision.
“When you first get hit with it, there is a level of hurt,” Altman said, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “You’re hurt because of what you went through for the four years with him and what he meant to us. But I was extremely thankful, at the same time. I realize what we accomplished this year and the last four years, and we did a lot. I mean, it was four incredible years led by him, and I’m very thankful for the years he gave our team, this organization, the city.”
Before LeBron James decided to sign with the Lakers, Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman has a strong belief that they had a chance to bring him back for another season. The Cavaliers were indeed on the list of James’ top free agency destinations, together with the Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers, and the Houston Rockets. However, James may have thought that it is time for him to start a new journey somewhere else.
After losing their best player, there is a growing belief that the Cavaliers are planning to undergo a full-scale rebuild. Names of Kevin Love, Kyle Korver, and George Hill suddenly became part of various NBA trade rumors in the past days. However, despite James’ absence on the team, Altman made it clear that the Cavaliers have no intention to tank.
Altman believes that the Cavaliers still have what it takes to make a huge impact in the Eastern Conference next season. The Cavaliers, as currently constructed, have a chance to earn the 7th or 8th playoff spot in the East, but it remains questionable if they have the capability to beat powerhouse teams like the Boston Celtics in a best-of-seven series.