Free Agency Profile #2: LeBron James

In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have.”

– LeBron James

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James may have been lying to us while selling Samsung phones at 5:30am. It’s not really “all about getting one for the Land:” it’s also about taking as much money from Cavaliers’ owner, Dan Gilbert, as possible.

roadrunnerLeBron is not leaving Cleveland.

LeBron can’t leave Cleveland.

Even if he brings them a ring this season he can’t leave, he’d never be able to step foot in Ohio again. Maybe he goes back to Miami? Okay; but, you’re not coming on the road when we go to Cleveland.  Even Indiana might be too close for comfort.

None of this means that he can’t use the threat of leaving to extort Dan Gilbert.

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 2.34.23 PMLike Durant, LeBron’s best move is to sign a two-year max with a player option after one. This allows James to increase his earnings with the rising cap, with the added luxury of holding a metaphorical anvil over Gilbert’s head.

There are two ways LeBron leaves: to play with all his friends after bringing multiple titles to Cleveland (after The Decision one’s not good enough) or Gilbert gets sick of GM ‘Bron running up the payroll. Coming in at over $108 million the Cavs have the highest payroll in the NBA by over $10 million.  There’s Nearly $40 million allocated to Love, Thompson, and Mozgov, and while Love spent nearly the entire regular season starting next to Thompson, we’ve seen how offensively potent Love at the five can be this postseason. That’s a lot of money to spend on one position, but Tristan Thompson is LeBron’s boy, so LeBron got Tristan Thompson paaaaaaiiiiid.

Assuming the Cavs fall short to either the Warriors or Thunder in the Finals, we’re likely to witness a roster shakeup in Cleveland.  All seems well for the Cavs after sweeping the first two series, but the Pistons and the Hawks are not true contestants in Cleveland’s struggle for supremacy.

Let’s not forget the Lebron’s constant sub-tweeting. He also got Love to Cleveland, had a major hand in putting the roster together, and got David Blatt fired.  This is LeBron’s team, and if the team LeBron built can’t win a championship, we could witness the once stormy relationship between owner and star re-ignite – this time to  point of no return.

Remember this?

Open Letter

‘Cause LeBron definitely does.

imageCatastrophe is a ways off, however.  LeBron can’t leave after only two seasons, and Gilbert would be blamed just as much as James if he were to once again leave Ohio.

Want to make Cleveland long for Art Modell? Let LeBron leave again.

All this said, nothing is written in stone – except that LeBron is playing for the Cavs again next season.  Maybe if the Browns make another call…

But, yeah: LeBron isn’t leaving Cleveland in 2016.

By Tyler Marko