I couldn’t sit down and write all this out when the LeBron James news first broke. Emotions were too raw, too unrefined. Now that I’ve had some time to think about it, I think I can process what I am feeling constructively.
As much as it pains me to acknowledge it, LeBron James has signed with the Los Angeles Lakers. I’m hurt and I’m disappointed that it came down to this decision, but I’m not mad at him. This seems like it was more of a family decision than a basketball one, and if the James family felt that their best interests were to be in LA, then that’s their choice. Still, it hurts to see him leave us again. Even with a championship under our belt, it’s the end of an era I was not ready to say goodbye to.
Now comes the “fun” part for our Cleveland Cavaliers: what do we do now? We are not in as bad of a shape as when LeBron left in 2010, but we are obviously dethroned in the Eastern Conference for the time being. We have two paths we can take. We can blow the entire roster up, have a firesale of Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith, Kevin Love, George Hill, Kyle Korver, and/or Jordan Clarkson for whatever we can get and start tanking for draft picks while exposing our young players to massive amounts of play time. Or we could maintain the status quo. Mediocre is not something you want to be in the NBA and that is something the Cavaliers risk being if they retain the current roster moving forward. If you recall the Josh Smith era Atlanta Hawks, being just good enough to make the playoffs every year is no way to advance in the NBA.
Still, with the Eastern Conference being as weak as it is, maybe we should just play for a playoff spot. Maybe we should let Collin Sexton develop with the mentality that we are trying to win, regardless of what the circumstances are. Maybe we should go after the best available free agents left on the market and try and piece something together for the 2018-2019 season. I am always of the belief that if you make the playoffs, you have a chance, even as an eighth seed.
Whatever the Cavaliers decide to do, we have to show them that they still have our support and that the Cleveland fanbase remains loyal to them. This is a rough time now for our franchise as it looks to reconstruct itself as a contender again. We as fans must remain hopeful and optimistic that we will get through this rebuild quickly. We already have a young core of players that we can build on with and I expect us to find some success sooner than later. For now, though, we must rebuild. It sucks to take the bus after flying first class for four years. I know we will overcome the heartache we are feeling right now as each new day begins. We will see the Cavaliers back to where they belong someday. Cleveland is a city of strength and nothing is tougher than our fans. We will get through this together.