On Wednesday night, LeBron James returned to the Quicken Loans Arena for the first time as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. As expected, James and the Lakers beat the Cleveland Cavaliers, but LeBron’s former team still managed to keep the gap close until the final seconds of the game.
As of now, the Cavaliers are on a three-game losing streak, sitting in the No. 15 spot in the Eastern Conference with a league-worst record of 2-14. In a post-game interview (courtesy of Lakers Nation), LeBron James talked about his overall experience being back in Cleveland and thanked the Cavaliers’ fans for appreciating his contributions to the franchise. James also discussed the Cavaliers’ current situation since he left in the recent free agency.
“I mean, listen, any time you’ve got a group of guys you’ve spent so much time with both on and off the floor, and they’re going through what they’re going through right now, you definitely feel for that. There’s champions over there, guys that have been to the Finals, a lot of guys that have worked their tail off to get to where they are in their career. You never want to see your friends be in the situation that they’re in. But as professionals, they’re still giving it all they’ve got, as they showed tonight.”
He was the hometown kid who was drafted No. 1, who broke the Cavs hearts by leaving in free agency, only to come back and make good on a pledge to finally win a championship in 2016.— Bill Oram (@billoram) November 22, 2018
The wound left by LeBron James’ second is healing much faster. https://t.co/x9XkUdQRBD
When LeBron James took his talent to the Western Conference to join the Lakers, most people already expected the Cavaliers to struggle in the 2018-19 NBA season. However, despite losing the best basketball player on the planet, Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman made it clear they were still aiming to defend their title as Eastern Conference champions. Unfortunately, without James, the Cavaliers are a totally different team.
The Cavaliers no longer looked like the NBA team who went to the NBA Finals for four consecutive seasons. To make things more complicated, they lost the new face of the franchise, Kevin Love, to an injury after playing four games this season. Love is still recovering from a toe surgery and expected to be back sometime in 2019.
So far, the Cavaliers are yet to decide whether they will consider undergoing a full-scale rebuild or not. However, they already started to unload some of their veterans, including J.R. Smith. After expressing his frustration with the team, the Cavaliers officially parted ways with the veteran shooting guard, hoping they could find him a new home before the February NBA trade deadline.