Is LeBron Just Gonna Leave Cleveland After The Warriors Get Done Destroying The Cavs?
The Cleveland Cavaliers have been outscored in the first two games of the 2016 NBA Finals by a total of 48 points, exactly one year after having left Oracle Arena with the series tied 1-1 (and two fewer healthy superstars on their roster). You'd be naive not to admit something seems off this time around, as LeBron James hasn't been able to muster the intensity he brought to the 2015 Finals. If you're Stephen A. Smith, you'd think it naive to assume that LeBron isn't strongly considering exercising the player option that's waiting for him this coming offseason.
On "First Take" Monday morning, ESPN's chief NBA rumorologist floated the idea that LeBron may be headed out of town after this painful series ends.
"I'm going to go here, Skip, because it is necessary. I'm on the record saying to you I have heard if the Cavaliers were to win the championship, LeBron will have fulfilled his promise and he can leave. But if he loses, he has to stay. Obviously, it would be disastrous and catastrophic and he would be a pariah. But it wouldn't surprise me, based on what I saw last night, if this continues in these NBA Finals, Skip, it wouldn't surprise me if LeBron said 'Get me the hell out of here.' I ain't staying for this. Let me go back to Miami or go to L.A., something other than be here."
Were he to leave after just two seasons, LeBron would be abandoning the promise he invariably gave to Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, who recently signed five-year deals with the Cavaliers under the assumption that he'd be there, as well. That's why it's so hard to imagine LeBron bolting in free agency before his contract fully expires. He's forcibly handcuffed the Cavs to three massive contracts (Tristan Thompson included), so his premature departure would look like a massive betrayal. That being said, the Cavaliers do not have the cap space to sign anyone this offseason, so the chance that LeBron is playing with a more cohesive, effective group next year is virtually impossible, outside the possibility of a massive trade.
Here's what Stephen A. Smith had to say about that...
"It wouldn't surprise me at all if he said get me the hell up out of here or we have to get in somebody different other than kyrie and kevin love because the three of us can't exist. carmelo anthony played in one conference times in his career. he has been in the semifinals. he never played in the nba finals. he is not a champion. no disrespect. you know how much i love my man melo, the bottom line he is no champion. boy, would i have loved to see him last night. what lebron needed, you need a stone-cold killer. something like melo would have been give me the damn ball."
That's an interesting prospect for the Knicks, who could trade their failed experiment with the 31-year-old Carmelo Anthony for the Cavaliers' failed experiment with Kevin Love/Kyrie Irving playing alongside LeBron James. As for the Cavs, I have no idea how swapping a mediocre defender for an awful defender changes their prospects of ever beating the Golden State Warriors.
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