Everyone dies eventually.
The beginning of our physical disintegration usually begins in our late 20s. Our bodies get stronger and stronger until we turn 29, at which point we gradually weaken until we perish. Life, man. It sucks…
For whatever reason, those rules don’t apply to LeBron James. He looked almost as explosive last season at 32 (with one gajillion NBA minutes on his bones, tendons, and ligaments) as he did at 25.
But here’s the rub: the modern day Adonis will one day weaken. He’ll lose a step as others (Kawhi Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Karl-Anthony Towns) get faster and stronger. The question isn’t if this will happen, but when, and despite James’ miraculous ability to defy Father Time, it seems that his gradual slowdown — while far more gradual than most — will continue over the next five seasons.
Which is why with all the Kyrie hoopla, it’s surprising that the Cavs unloading LeBron hasn’t been discussed as a feasible option.
Sure, James has a full no-trade clause. He needs to sign off on any deal (which he would anyway as the de facto GM), but why on earth, given the drama surrounding the organization and the high likelihood that LeBron is manifesting destiny and trekking west next season, wouldn’t the Cavs sit down with their star and ask him to essentially “pick a team”?
Where do you want to go, LeBron? Los Angeles, San Antonio, Houston? Where? Because wherever Bron wants to go, you bet your ass that team is gonna hand over every draft pick from now until 2050 to procure his services.
Cleveland is already regressing. Maybe the Kyrie trade will yield a package that makes up for Irving’s production and LeBron’s anger — a very real and important force — and will propel Cleveland over Boston in the East and Golden State in the 2018 Finals.
Maybe he’ll be able to hoist another championship banner in Cleveland and yell “FUCK YOU, KYRIE!” from the banners as Irving practices his crossover in Minnesota.
But the more realistic scenario is this: Cleveland trades Kyrie, they’re not as good next season, LeBron leaves in 2018, and the Cavs are screwed for the next five years.
What if new GM Koby Altman approached LeBron and said, “Look, this is a shitshow. Why don’t we facilitate a trade with three or four teams that gives us a ton of assets back, puts you on a contending team, and everyone leaves happy?”
By unloading two of the league’s best players (and Kevin Love, someone who hasn’t been able to postpone his physical decline), Cleveland would be able to set itself up to contend in 2020, which given the Warriors’ budding dynasty, is realistically is when most of the NBA should be aiming to reap the fruits of their “process.”
LeBron did what he set out to do in Cleveland — he won a ring. He’ll be a hero in his hometown forever.
A trade would allow him to leave with less drama than a Decision 2-type scenario, and it would set up Northeast Ohio to contend after his departure.
It feels like blasphemy to ask the question, but what if Cleveland traded LeBron?
Seems like it could work out well for everyone involved…