- LeBron James is approaching a deadline to decide whether or not to become a free agent.
- James has not been in contact with the Cavs, making their efforts to keep him all the more challenging.
- The Cavs are in the dark about ways to improve the roster without clear communication from James.
LeBron James is approaching a deadline to decide whether to opt into his contract for next season or become a free agent.
James himself is facing a difficult decision as he surveys the NBA landscape and tries to find a team that fits all of his needs.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Ramona Shelburne, and Brian Windhorst, as James weighs his future, he hasn’t been in contact with Cleveland Cavaliers, making their life all the more challenging.
“The Cavaliers have been working on several trade and salary-cap clearing possibilities to be aggressive in free agency, but have been stymied in attempts to meet or discuss scenarios with James, league sources said. James had been clear that he wouldn’t engage with the Cavaliers throughout the pre-draft and pre-free agent process, and has stayed consistent with that posture.”
ESPN reported the Cavs would love to find ways to add either Paul George or Chris Paul to entice James to stay, but such scenarios are difficult because of their lack of salary cap space and trade assets.
According to ESPN, the Cavs are in the dark about ways to improve the roster without clear communication from James.
Since returning to the Cavs in 2014, James has kept them on edge every season by signing two-year deals with opt-outs after one year. Not only did that plan work to make him more money, but it also kept the pressure on the Cavs to keep improving, knowing James could leave any summer.
But that plan also worked against James and the Cavs. The Cavs were forced to re-sign role players to big contracts that are now hard to move or work around. The Cavs are well over the salary cap and have few assets to make a deal to improve the team in any substantial way.
Additionally, the Cavs were reportedly close to landing Paul George in a trade last offseason, but George wouldn’t commit because James’ future was undecided. The deal eventually fell apart.
Because there are few perfect options for James this offseason, it’s possible he could decide to remain with the Cavs on another short-term contract. He could spend another season in Cleveland, putting off his free agency decision for another year before re-analysing the landscape next year.
The Cavs went all-in around James in recent years. From the sounds of it, they’re still willing to be all-in to keep him, but without input from James, that makes the task even harder. Ultimately, the Cavs may have to take a gamble on making a move in hopes it pleases him or standing pat, knowing James helped shape the roster today.
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