The Cleveland Cavaliers suffered a big blow when they publicly lost LeBron James in the summer of 2010. The team went from being a true title contender to a lottery lock in the time it took for LeBron to finish telling us where he was taking his talents.
As we all know, LeBron has gone on to win back-to-back titles since shipping himself south and has clearly cemented himself as the best player in the game.
For its part, Cleveland, despite struggling through the past three seasons without a playoff appearance, has done a decent job of building itself back up into a contender. The addition of oft-injured Andrew Bynum is the latest piece to the puzzle, joining a plethora of lottery picks from the past couple seasons.
The team is rounding out well while adding a lot of young talent. They may only be a piece or two away from true contention, and the name that seems to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue is LeBron James.
It seems a little premature to discuss LeBron’s future destination, as he is fresh off of celebrating his second consecutive title. But anyone who watched Miami’s playoff run closely know that the Heat need some help to maintain their dominance, and there is no guarantee that LeBron will be there long term.
So the question has to be asked; are the Cavs building up a team to fit well around LeBron in an effort to bring him back next summer?
When ESPN first posed this question early in the summer, I dismissed it as more conversational drivel that the network has become noted for.
However, after examining the Cavalier’s current roster and the organization’s offseason moves, it appears that the next piece they need on the way to championship contention is a premier wing player; a position James is beyond fit to fill.
A quick look down their suddenly stacked roster shows that they are set pretty much everywhere on the floor except for small forward, and that the current roster looks as though it was built to compliment a player like LeBron very well.
There’s the dynamic, play-making point guard in Kyrie Irving. There’s a bunch of spot-up shooters including Dion Waiters, the recently-drafted Sergey Karasev, and, oh yeah, LeBron’s longtime teammate and friend Daniel “Booby” Gibson remains on the roster.
One thing LeBron’s teams in Miami have been missing is solid post players, and the Cavaliers have several of them.
Over the course of the past couple seasons, Cleveland has done an excellent job of fortifying its frontcourt, capped off by the recent acquisition of Andrew Bynum who, when healthy, is one of the league’s best big men. Another one of LeBron’s former teammates, Anderson Varejo, also remains on the roster, and he has grown greatly since James’ departure, developing into one of the game’s best rebounders. Between these two and the improving and athletic Tyler Zeller, the center spot is well-solidified.
The Cavs also have a couple promising prospects at the power forward position, including the first overall pick of the 2013 NBA Draft, Anthony Bennett. Throw in last year’s lottery pick Tristan Thompson, and the team has a lot of lineup options.
Of course this is all speculation, as LeBron still has another full season in South Beach before he will begin to consider taking his talents elsewhere, but if ESPN can talk about it, hey, so can we.
Of course, ESPN’s projected lineup was televised before the Bynum deal went down, so now a potential starting five could look something like this:
PG – Kyrie Irving
SG – Dion Waiters
SF – LeBron James
PF- Anthony Bennett
C – Andrew Bynum
Of course for this lineup to ever come to fruition a lot of pieces need to fall into place; Irving needs to continue his superstar ascension, Bennett needs to grasp the NBA game, Bynum would need to get, and stay healthy, and so on and so on.
So while at this point it is all speculation, there is no denying that Cleveland has constructed a potentially deep and deadly team that would complement the style of play of one, LeBron James.
Even the Cavalier’s recent coaching selection seems as if it may have been made to potentially appease LeBron.
Mike Brown, who was the Cavs’ head coach during James’ peak years in Cleveland is back on the sideline for the next five seasons. Mike and LeBron got along well, and enjoyed much success together, despite falling short of an NBA title. Brown was at times criticized for letting the Cavs become ‘LeBron’s team’ and basically allowing the superstar to do whatever he saw fit to on the court; something LeBron couldn’t have hated.
Next summer, four years after the ‘Decision’ debacle, James will have another decision to make, and while at this point it is impossible to determine if he will remain in Miami or take his talents elsewhere, but it sure seems like Cleveland may be preparing to try to bring him back