Before we start making excuses for LeBron James, before we start putting the blame on Ty Lue, before we start pointing the finger at his supporting cast, we need to take a step back and remember that this was the team that GM LeBron James put together.
When LeBron James returned home to Cleveland and wrote that letter in Sports Illustrated, leaving his best friends in Miami, this was the team he envisioned. He left out Andrew Wiggins in that Sports Illustrated letter for a reason, he envisioned Kevin Love joining him. When the Cavaliers fired David Blatt, they hired the coach that LeBron James wanted, Tyronn Lue.
Last year when the Cavaliers lost to the Golden State Warriors, the story was the fact that LeBron was without his two superstar teammates: Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love and as LeBron said post-game after Game 6 of the 2015 NBA Finals, the [2014-15] Cavaliers just “ran out of talent.”
But one year later, here we are. The team assembled by King James is being clobbered.
The Cavaliers have no answer for the Warriors so far. It’s been one-sided despite the Splash Brothers’ pedestrian Finals to their standard. The Warriors have beaten the Cavs by the largest point-differential through the first two games in NBA Finals history. The Warriors have also won 7 straight games (including playoffs).
Losing to this Golden State Warriors team that won an NBA record 73 regular season games wouldn’t be something that should tarnish LeBron’s legacy or impact it, but if the series continues on the track it’s on and so far it’s not been competitive at all, the story line after this series shouldn’t be “LeBron didn’t have any help” or “the stage was too big for Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and coach Ty Lue” but the story line should be this is the team LeBron James put together and this is the team that failed.
Now, LeBron James camp and the Cleveland Cavaliers will deny that LeBron had any say in any free agent moves but the pieces to the puzzle connect perfectly. As I mentioned earlier, the letter “I’m coming home” , LeBron James mentioned all of his teammates except one, the No.1 overall pick in the 2014 Draft, Andrew Wiggins. Weeks later, Wiggins was traded to Minnesota for Kevin Love. This move deprived the Cavaliers from a young talent that LeBron James could’ve taken under his wing and mentored.
Later on in the 2014-15 season, the Cavaliers traded two first round pick to Denver for center Timofey Mozgov, someone who has become a non-factor on this Cavaliers team. A day earlier, the Cavaliers traded Dion Waiters, a young asset for the Cavaliers in a three-team trade that brought the erratic JR Smith (who’s taken 9 shots in these NBA Finals and only made 3 of them) and Iman Shumpart.
After the season, the Cavaliers were faced with the task of having to resign Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and Iman Shumpart, they did just that, the Cavaliers gave Kevin Love a 5-year, $113 million contract, they gave Tristan Thompson a 5-year, $82 million contract extension, they gave Iman Shumpert a 4-year, $40 million contract.
Thompson, who is represented by Klutch Sports and LeBron James’ agent and business partner Rich Paul got the contract extension many believed he didn’t deserve. How much of LeBron’s hand was in that? Considering the contract talks were dragged into October and Rich Paul being GM LeBron’s friend and partner, I’d say a lot.
So far, the GM experiment with LeBron James is not working and it could leave Cleveland, who was once considered a bright and young team back to where they started as LeBron James is set to become an unrestricted free agent once again.
Will he leave Cleveland for the second time? Probably not. But that’s the same answer I had when asked in 2010.
But one thing is for sure, if the series continues as it’s going right now, the Cavaliers will begin their summer vacation sooner then many of us expected. And that’s when we will find out if GM LeBron is content with this team or will there be more changes on the horizon.
LeBron James is a great player, one of the all time greats, a legend. But one thing is for sure, he should not be in charge of a franchise. When he was in Miami, Pat Riley ruled and James captured two championships.
If the Cavaliers fail to win a championship this year, maybe LeBron James the GM should be fired.
After all, LeBron James just needs to look across the floor as his finals opponent Steph Curry, who has had a pedestrian NBA Finals to his standard but thanks to the players put around him by the people in charge sees himself two wins away from having the same amount of rings as he does.