Report: LeBron James to take wait-and-see approach in free-agency period
While the possibility of LeBron James bolting from the Cavaliers for a second time seems unlikely, reports out of Cleveland indicate that the superstar will take a cautious approach to his future. His ultimate decision specifically relates to what the team accomplishes during the free-agency period, according to what league sources told Northeast Ohio Group’s Chris Haynes.
As noted in the report, the contract situations surrounding Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert are expected to be resolved before the team tackles its dealings with James, who is all but certain to decline his player option for next season before Monday’s deadline.
James reportedly wants to see the return of Love, Thompson, Shumpert and Smith — although Smith, like Love, opted out of his contract with the team, meaning he’s a free agent (but did say he wants to return to the Cavs) — he also expects management to do whatever it takes to improve the roster and bolster his supporting cast, while also keeping some of the key pieces intact. In other words, James expects the team to preserve a “win-now” mentality heading into next season.
The report indicates that James will be a “watcher” during the coming weeks and will not offer his input on personnel and/or coaching decisions, although Cavaliers general manager David Griffin previously indicated James has been “very much engaged” with the team on roster decisions.
The news that James insisted he won’t attempt to re-sell Love on the concept of playing with Cavaliers seems to land somewhere in the middle of the above two arguably polarizing statements. He previously has stated Thompson “should probably be a Cavalier for his whole career,” so his reluctance to make a sales pitch to Love is telling.
The fact that James also reportedly emasculated head coach David Blatt during the playoffs certainly indicates that he is pulling the strings — at least subtly — is certainly a legitimate speculation.
The notion that James will again break the hearts of Cavaliers fans by all accounts is seemingly an unlikelihood, but that does not mean he’s not going to do his best to turn the screws in a manner of speaking to make sure the organization doesn’t get complacent. Reports in December also indicated James could indeed bolt from the Cavs if his “hand was forced.” But that speculative report broke before the team got hot and made a run to the NBA Finals.
Anything of course is possible, but it’s probably a safe assumption to believe the Cavaliers will do what it takes to keep James happy and he’ll put pen to paper soon enough.