The Cleveland Cavaliers just recently traded for star forward Luol Deng. The All-Star veteran instantly took over the starting small forward role for the Cavs and although he his contract is expiring this summer, he might stay in Cleveland for a long term. So that kind of diminishes Cleveland’s chances to pursue LeBron James this summer, right? Wrong.
The latest word coming from Cleveland is that the team will not rush offering Luol Deng a contract extension, in order to seek for a possibility to land King James this summer. LeBron has the right to become an unrestricted free agent and he has not counted out the possibility of a return to Cleveland. On the contrary, he did say that it would be interesting to play in front of those fans once again and that started the rumor mill once again.
The trick here is that although LeBron has the right to become an unrestricted free agent, there are big chances he chooses to stay in South Beach. As long as the Miami Heat can retain their dynasty status and as long as Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh also remain members of the team, there is simply no reason for LeBron to opt out of a winning franchise. After all, he took “The Decision” to walk out of Cleveland and head to Miami in order to win. If his current team is giving him the best chances to win, why would he even consider switching for a team that is several levels below?
Of course, the Cavaliers do have Kyrie Irving, which would be a good reason for LeBron to want to come back to Cleveland. The team also possesses much young talent. The Cavs might not be contending for a championship this season, but they have certainly bounced back from the period of slump that followed LeBron’s departure. So is that enough for LeBron to return?
The only way that would make sense, would be when and if the Miami Heat are no longer the team they currently are. In a year or two, Ray Allen will have to hang his shoes, the careers of veterans like Shane Battier and Udonis Haslem will be in their dawns and the Heat might need to shake things up. On the contrary, by that time, the Cavaliers might have reached the next level thus making Cleveland a more tempting destination for The King.
Up to then, the Cavs will have to give their best to retain Luol Deng. Although Deng is not nearly as a dominant player as LeBron, he is the best small forward the team had since LBJ. Deng reportedly rejected a three-year $30 million extension from the Chicago Bulls, so the Cavaliers should think twice before making their move. The team has the financial ability to offer a tempting contract.
The possibility of LeBron returning to Cleveland is certainly there. Nonetheless, the Cavaliers can’t rely on it. They can’t build their franchise solely with the purpose of luring James back. They have to move on, prove that they are a winning franchise and in reality force LeBron to want to come back and be a part of this.