The way the Cavs had been constructed, surrounding James with elderly ex-stars and role players who have been dented by injury, made it all too easy for him to look at the Cleveland roster going forward and walk away to the LA sunshine, content with having brought the franchise the 2016 title.
But can James walk away from a team that could be slated for a rebirth, with or without him? Hood is a talented wing, a potential 20-22 points-per-game scorer. Clarkson has Sixth Man of the Year potential. Nance is a valuable role player. Young internationals Cedi Osman and Ante Zizic should be ready to contribute next season. And there’s a strong chance the Cavs wind up with a top-five pick in a top-heavy draft.
Team LeBron took Kevin Durant with the first-overall pick and later selected Durant’s former Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook. The most recent chapter in the saga between Durant and Westbrook was marked by a fiery exchange in late November, but the two are All-Star teammates once again.
But if this goes down as the only movie starring Kyrie Irving, the world of art and cinema will be forever crippled. At least, Irving seems to think so. Asked which of the basketball stars is the best actor, Irving did not miss a beat.
I am, he said, laughing. I am.
With the Cavaliers struggling, Miami has been aggressive on the trade market, with team president Pat Riley sensing an opportunity to pull an upset in an increasingly open Eastern Conference. Keeping Whiteside could be a key to that �� if Miami has hope against teams like Cleveland, Toronto and Boston, it is in its ability to slow the game down and use a weapon like Whiteside in the middle.
My sense is, the only way they would move him is if they could get an upgrade at the same position, one league executive said. They’re trying to get better in the short term, but they’re not out there trying to give Hassan away.