While the national media continues to focus on the fact that Cleveland is undoubtedly going to lose LeBron James, we here in Cleveland continue to think otherwise. Maybe it is delusion. Maybe it is desperation. I don’t know for sure. The fact is that nobody really knows for sure. And now, I have a new take on the whole LeBron situation. I haven’t read anyone else who put this argument together, but I am sure I will hear about it in the next few days if someone already has.
But before I get into my new take, just for the sake of completeness, here are the basic thoughts being tossed around already. First the camp that insists LeBron has to leave:
- LeBron has to leave because he is friends with Jay-Z who owns an infinitesimal piece of the New Jersey Nets
- The New Jersey Nets are moving to Brooklyn and LeBron has to go help kick off the new era of the franchise
- The Nets traded Richard Jefferson, meaning they are readying themselves for LeBron
- There are escalators in LeBron’s Nike contract which pay him more if he is in a major market like NYC
Then the other side is basically:
- LeBron likes his hometown
- Nobody can give LeBron a bigger NBA contract than Cleveland
- LeBron reached the finals in Cleveland
- Terry Pluto’s brilliant argument that says you never know where the talent is going to be centered a year from now let alone two years from now
- LeBron has stated that he wants to bring a parade to Cleveland because he knows we are suffering as sports fans (this interview answer is one that the national media NEVER mentions because it doesn’t fit their pre-determined storyline that Cleveland doesn’t deserve LeBron James)
Well, I have a new take. Everyone was so quick to point out that the Richard Jefferson trade on draft night was definitely designed at getting LeBron to the Nets in two years. Well, you know which team is gearing up to have a ton of cap space when LeBron’s contract year comes around?
THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS
As of this writing, the Cavaliers don’t have a single player under contract for more than LeBron’s two year deal. When next season starts the Cavs might have two players under contract for longer than LeBron and those will probably amount to somewhere in the $10-12 million dollar range COMBINED with Daniel Gibson and Delonte West. That’s it. Maybe some draft picks will end up with deals that range longer than LeBron’s two years remaining.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas and his nearly $11 million comes off. Ben Wallace’s almost $15 million comes off. In addition, LeBron’s salary comes off. And guess what else. Because LeBron is such an influential guy, the market is going to be flooded with free agents. Dwayne Wade followed LeBron’s lead and only signed a five year deal when he was up for his first free agent contract. Chris Bosh also followed LeBron’s lead in that department.
You will also remember that LeBron really did lead the charge on the 5-year deals at that time. This means that LeBron has influence. Who’s to say that LeBron wouldn’t be able to recruit some guys to come in and play with him in two years? Could you imagine Dwayne Wade and/or Chris Bosh playing alongside LeBron? The bottom line is that these types of situations can only occur where tons of cap space exists.
As long as Cleveland doesn’t screw this up and load up the roster with too much salary, the Cavs will have $40 million dropping off the cap in order to pull in top talent along with LeBron in his contract year. Think about what the Clippers just did to try and keep Elton Brand in LA.
I am not guaranteeing that this will happen, but it is JUST as likely as all the presumed OBVIOUS scenarios that get bandied about by the national press when they are looking to pull the greatest sports figure in Cleveland history out of this town.