Blogtable: How does Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas trade effect LeBron James' future?
Each week, we ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day.
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How does this trade effect your confidence in regards to LeBron staying put next summer? Please explain your answer.
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Fran Blinebury: Once Irving demanded a trade, James’ situation beyond the 2017-18 season was always more tenuous. This deal probably tips it slightly more in favor of him leaving. Of course, he enters another season as the NBA’s best player and if Isaiah Thomas can stay healthy and the Cavs find a way back to The Finals, that could change his mind. But in that case, owner Dan Gilbert would be faced with decision of giving Thomas a max contract and that could be the fly in the ointment.
Scott Howard-Cooper: No impact. The Cavaliers can still say they have built a good team around him, now just with Thomas and Crowder instead of Irving. If James had happy feet before this anyway, nothing changed. If he was wanting to stay, he still has reason to stay. It’s not like he was feeling squeezed out by the presence of Kyrie Irving or anything.
Shaun Powell: I don’t think the trade has anything to do with LeBron staying or going. If LeBron leaves, and assuming it’ll be for the Lakers, it’ll be for exclusive reasons — a chance to play for a more legendary franchise, the business opportunities of Hollywood, the weather, a change of scenery and to trade Dan Gilbert for Magic Johnson/Jeanne Buss. He already won a title in Cleveland, so that promise was fulfilled.
John Schuhmann: The chances of him staying certainly look better than they did 48 hours ago, when his team’s second leading scorer wanted out and we didn’t know what kind of return the Cavs would get. Now we know that they’ve added depth and defense without sacrificing much at point guard. But I won’t pretend to know what the chances were then or are now. Maybe it depends on how this season goes. Maybe not.
Sekou Smith: This trade has no impact on my confidence in LeBron remaining in Cleveland. I don’t assume that LeBron does anything on a whim when it comes to his NBA future. He’ll have a calculated list of options for why he decides to either bolt or remain in Cleveland when the time comes. And it won’t be tied solely to this deal. If the Cavaliers were to find their way back to The Finals for a fourth straight year and somehow overcome a powerhouse Western Conference team to claim another Larry O’Brien Trophy, I think that would have a far greater impact on his decision than this trade will have had. LeBron’s simply more calculating than I think people want to give him credit for.
Ian Thomsen: If they win the lottery with the Nets’ pick, then the Cavs’ confidence will surely go up. Thomas should provide as many points on average as Irving did, Crowder gives them some of the youthful energy they need, and Zizic’s adaptation figures to be hastened by LeBron, as he has done for so many teammates. Will Dwyane Wade sign with Cleveland if he negotiates a buyout with Chicago? In spite of those potential upsides, it’s ridiculous to predict LeBron’s future when virtually every team would do just about anything to make room for him. All options are possible for him — and the Cavaliers realize this more than anyone.
Lang Whitaker: I think the key to this trade for Cleveland is that first-round pick belonging to Brooklyn that Boston handed over. Brooklyn will probably be better than they were a year ago, but not much better, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that pick ends up representing ping pong balls in the lottery, where we already know the Cavs have had some outrageous fortune. If LeBron is looking to end his career somewhere that a bunch of young players can come together and build something special, it would seem like adding one of the top picks in what looks to be a loaded 2018 Draft might be enough to keep him around. Either way, I still think staying in the Eastern Conference is the smartest move he could make. And there’s no place like home.