Without a doubt the legacy of LeBron James was rehabilitated with one well-penned letter. And now that James returns home the trickle-down effect on the rest of the Association will be significant.
Dissecting the winners and losers in this monumental power shift is easy. Winners, LeBron, the Cavaliers, Dan Gilbert and to be quite honest, the league. This is a great move for the NBA. The Association’s biggest star was a villain. His “Decision” in 2010 left a sour taste in many people’s mouths. And while James didn’t owe the fans anything, his dis-respect for his home-town team was shameful.
Now, the league’s best player and biggest star is a sports-hero again. He returns home, with hat in hand, fully aware how he wronged them before and how he hopes to make amends. This is truly a Prodigal Son story. The biblical tale where the pretentious son leaves the house, vowing never to return. Only to return, apologetic, solemn and contrite and asking forgiveness. It’s a great story. It fits, and we are seeing it in motion. The NBA and its fans are big winners here.
The biggest losers, without a doubt, the Miami Heat. The Heat had to feel supremely confident in knowing that they could offer him the most money, along with the possibility of playing with his best buddies. What they didn’t realize is that James missed home. He missed Akron, and the tug of home was bigger than anything Miami could offer. The Heat will now try to piece together the remnants of an aging roster that is deficient in high quality talent but has money to spend.
I don’t consider Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh big losers in this scenario. In my opinion they are partly responsible for James bolting. Wade’s eroding skills and Bosh becoming a shell of his Toronto-self signaled to James that his future was not in South Beach. Wade will get paid by Heat owner Micky Arison, but he is not even close to the player he once was. There is too much tread on those worn tires.
Bosh has become a perimeter jump shooter, that didn’t seem to fit with James anymore. And, while they are great friends, when on the floor together their games just didn’t mesh. With Bosh signing a 5-year 118 million dollar deal to stay in Miami, maybe he can become that dominating player again. He will get his shot, with no James in the picture. I think we could see the Bosh that was such a special player in Toronto because now Miami will need him more than ever.
The other big loser, sadly my beloved Golden State Warriors. Now that James is back in Cleveland he will want to surround himself with other high quality, YOUNG championship type players who are hungry. One of those players is Kevin Love. Love has told the Minnesota Timberwolves he will not re-sign with them and will leave via free agency if they don’t trade him. Love has played six outstanding seasons in the league and has yet to make the playoffs. He exemplifies hungry.
The Cavaliers have assets and picks to trade. Ironically, they have first round picks galore, including a Miami Heat first rounder from the 2010 LeBron DECISION to leave Cleveland. I can see the Cavs packaging a few first-rounders and a couple of young players for Love. This package may be something the Wolves jump at as they try to get impact players and rebuild. Minnesota GM and head coach Flip Saunders has said he doesn’t want the TWolves to rebuild. He says he wants to compete now. But if he is honest with himself and his fan base, they will need picks and some ping-pong ball love in the draft lottery to become a playoff team. He may not WANT to tear the team down and rebuild it, but I think he has to.
Sadly, that means the Warriors and their flirtations with the Wolves in trying to acquire Love may fall on deaf ears. It may also force the Warriors to part with Klay Thompson, someone new head coach Steve Kerr and consultant Jerry West DO NOT want the Warriors to trade. The Timberwolves have insisted they get Thompson in any deal for Love. If the Warriors want that possible franchise turning power forward they may have to include Thompson.
This is a bad day for the Warriors who were the clubhouse leaders in the race for Love. They may have been able to get him without dealing Thompson, that seems far-fetched now. ESPN quotes Love as saying he is “intrigued” about joining James in Cleveland. If the Warriors truly want Love, they may have to act and act fast.
As the league celebrates its biggest star returning home, the Warriors need to make some hard and fast choices on whether they currently are constructed to win a championship, or whether Kevin Love is that missing piece. The Warriors war-room has some strong personalities with varying opinions, ultimately Joe Lacob signs the checks and will be making this decision, regardless of how much Kerr and West plead to keep this current core together.
Oh to be a fly on the wall in those Dubs offices…….