LeBron James is absolutely livid, but can the Cavs pull off the deal he wants?
'We're not better than last year'
Well, it took us a few months, but finally, LeBron James is publicly complaining about the Cavaliers' roster and performance. So the NBA season has really begun.
On Monday night, the Cavaliers lost for the fifth time in seven games, a 124-122 defeat to New Orleans in which they trailed by 20 points at one point before storming back only to fall short. In the past 10 games, the Cavaliers have been outscored by 38 points with James on the floor, an amazing stat given how much better they typically are when he's on the court.
After the game, James ... got into his feelings, as Klay Thompson might say. James spoke openly of his frustration with the team being unable to secure another playmaker/backup point guard and of his concern that the team isn't acting with enough urgency. And, well ... he's not a happy dude. From Ohio.com:
3. "We're not better than last year, from a personnel standpoint ... we're a top-heavy team," James said, adding a few minutes later, "I just hope that we're not satisfied as an organization. I just hope we not satisfied. How hard it was to do that s---. I just hope we're not satisfied."
4. Satisfied, in this instance, means satisfied breaking the city's 52-year drought and winning one championship. That's not enough. James wants more.
5. "I don't got no time to waste," he said. "I'll be 33 in the winter and I ain't got time to waste. That's what I'm talking about. ... When I feel like physically and mentally, me personally, can't compete for a championship no more or I feel like I can't do it, then I won't have this problem. But until that happens, and it don't seem like no time soon..." He didn't finish the sentence. He didn't have to.
And more from ESPN:
"It's like when you don't have bodies, it's tough," James said. "The f---ing grind of the regular season, we're a top-heavy team. We have a top-heavy team. We top-heavy as s---. It's me, [Kyrie Irving], [Kevin Love]. It's top-heavy."
"I'm not singling out anybody," James said. "I'm not. Yeah, we won [the championship], but f---, you know what, let's see if we can do something."
James isn't lying. The Cavs do need another playmaker (and you can read all about some options right here), and time is ticking on his career. But this is clearly a reaction to the Cavaliers' recent downturn, which is pretty predictable. They suffered a major injury to J.R. Smith, then went on a long West Coast road trip before returning home and losing to the Spurs.
And losing to the Spurs probably makes LeBron a little crazy at this point.
Plus, James is aware that though the Cavaliers pulled off the greatest comeback in NBA history last summer, it did require the greatest comeback in NBA history to beat the Warriors ... who then went and landed Kevin Durant. So yeah, getting a backup point guard doesn't seem like too much to ask.
James mentioned that it's not Kay Felder or DeAndre Liggins' fault that they're not what the Cavaliers need: They're just not ready for this kind of contribution level. Cavs GM David Griffin has acknowledged the need, but the Cavs are also woefully short on assets. They can't trade any pick between now and 2021, and Iman Shumpert is playing too well to let go.
At the same time, James bears some responsibility for this as well. He wanted Channing Frye, wanted shooters everywhere. He wanted the Cavs to bring back Smith, which they did after a prolonged holdout. Because of their cap situation, however, they pretty much had to. They couldn't sign a replacement, though they could have opted to retain Matthew Dellavedova -- who signed with the Bucks -- instead. This is the roster James wanted, but just as he was frustrated in Miami when the Heat let Mike Miller go, the attrition that the cap takes on a team seems to frustrate him. There are only so many roster spots, after all.
The Cavs are between a rock and a hard place, and they'll have to pull a rabbit out of their hat to make the kind of deal James is talking about here.
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