The Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA draft lottery on Tuesday night and secured yet another No. 1 pick. Adding that selection – reports conflict over who that may ultimately be – to a core of Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters could make the Cavs an attractive free agent destination.
Youth and promise will not, however, be enough on their own to lure LeBron James back to Cleveland to join his pal Johnny Manziel in a Cleveland sports renaissance.
While it’s unclear what James may do this summer, when he can become an unrestricted free agent should he choose, what is clear to those in the know is that James doesn’t want to stop contending for a championship, not even for a minute.
Within the league, opinion on this topic varies wildly. Some label it as absurd because of the Cavs’ repeated stumbles and the damage the franchise did to James on a personal level after his departure. But there are others who think it’s reasonable under certain circumstances — one of which exploded onto the radar Tuesday night in the form of more lottery luck, opening the door again for the Cavs to add a potential star player.
However, what is clear is that when James looks at his menu of options next month he will focus on being with a team that is built to contend for championships right now. Not in two years. Not after new teammates get their first taste of the playoffs. Now.
The Cavs could wiggle far enough below the salary cap to offer James the maximum, and Cleveland is James’ hometown (well, Akron), but it’s tough to tell if Cleveland’s pieces will be enough for James to see “contender.”
That won’t stop the Cavs and new general manager David Griffin from trying, however. ESPN’s Marc Stein suggests that Miami Heat assistant coach David Fizdale could be hired as the next Cavs coach and the team could then try to swing the top pick for another veteran contributor to help lure James.
Of course, dealing the top pick in a loaded draft just for the chance to entice James, and thus forgoing years of an Irving-No. 1 pick duo, is risky. But it’s LeBron James, so you kind of have to at least test the waters with that risk.