Free Agent LeBron James: No Place Like Home

Crazy to think that the best player in the Association is thinking about leaving a team coming off a Finals’ appearance. Miami’s Pat Riley lured the king of the court to South Beach, however the hometown team that drafted him could return the favor. Cleveland has formed a nucleus that includes a handful of lottery picks listed below, acquiring these assets while LeBron James took his talents to South Beach, four Finals’ appearances, and two championships.

What does this all mean to LeBron?

King James making his return to his hometown team would be perceived as loyalty, and Cleveland would have realistic hopes of being crowned as champions. James returning would signal his desire to instill a winning culture with a talented team in place for his services. Still at the top of the league today and for the foreseeable future, I would absolutely assume he retires with the Cavaliers. His Hall of Fame ticket is already made, now he aims to entrench his legacy to a city that never wins and to repair a controversial image. Not that he needs to, but doing so thrusts his icon status and his name near the top of the greatest to play this game. We’re talking about a multiple-time champion and Most Valuable Player with plenty of game left and this obviously shifts the power in the Eastern Conference. Believe it or not, James can still prove, as he has yet to win Defensive Player of the Year and hasn’t shot 80% from the charity stripe yet.

Career averages: 27.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 6.9 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.8 blocks, 75% FT, 50% FG, and 34% 3-PT.

– 2011 #1 pick, PG Kyrie Irving

So far, we have seen superstar glimpses from the clutch point guard, Irving is a much better option going forward, then Miami’s Dwyane Wade.So far, we have seen superstar glimpses from the clutch point guard, Irving is a much better option going forward, then Miami’s Dwyane Wade. The Duke Blue-Devil averaged 17 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.5 steals in 11 games (he sat out the rest of the year to injury and entered the draft). From game-winners to putting a struggling team on his back, the former Rookie of the Year has already played in a pair of All-Star games, one of which was this past season where Irving won MVP. Two seasons ago he won the 3-point Shootout at All-Star Weekend. In 4 seasons with Cleveland he’s put up: 20 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 1.4 and steals per contest.

– 2014 #1 pick, SG/SF Andrew Wiggins

The Canadian played one season for the Kansas Jayhawks and is slated to start at shooting guard. Posting 17 points and 6 rebounds in college, Wiggins shot 34% from downtown and is active, both on the boards and defensive end.

– 2013 #1 pick, PF Anthony Bennett

Also Canadian, for the UNLV Running Rebels Bennett averaged 16 points and 8 rebounds. He didn’t have the best rookie season, only notching 4 points and 3 rebounds, without starting a single game despite being the top pick.

– 2012 #4 pick, SG Dion Waiters

The guard played a couple seasons for the Syracuse Orange, averaging about: 12 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals. In two years in the pros he’s been hindered by minor ankle and knee injuries, posting averages of: 16 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists.

– 2012 #17 pick, C Tyler Zeller

Played four season for the UNC Tarheels, averaging about: 13 points, 7 rebounds, and a block per game. The big man prospect did not play much during his rookie season, but he did last year and started the majority of games averaging 6 points and 4 boards.

– 2011 #4 pick, PF Tristin Thompson

Also Canadian, power forward played one season for the Texas Longhorns, where he dropped 13 points and grabbed 6 rebounds per game. He also played for Canada in 2008 on a team that earned the bronze medal, only placing behind the United States and Argentina. Thompson has averaged about 10 points and 9 boards in three seasons with the Cavaliers. He was drafted just few selections after teammate, Kyrie Irving.

* For the record: The 2013 Rising Stars game featured four players from the Cavaliers: Irving, Waiters, Thompson, and Zeller.

– Three 1st-round picks in 2015 draft

These could be used as trade bait, perhaps Kevin Love, in a package around maybe one or two players in their young core. Trading for an established all-star is possible with the assets they’ve allocated, adding the best player in the world would be tempting enough to offer Love a contract next offseason (or any desirable target for that matter). Bennett didn’t have an impressive rookie campaign, although it is way too early to label him as he continues to learn the game. Although last year’s draft class was considered mediocre, Bennett was the top pick but doesn’t have the pressure of being the face or go-to guy. He is definitely expected to contribute to the rotation.

Cleveland has rebuilt through the draft since James’ 2010 departure, and are rumored to be the unanimous destination for James’ inner circle. With his return they have a high-profile supporting cast to be considered favorites in the Eastern Conference, with legitimately hopes of bring championship(s) to Cleveland. The top-flight guard, Irving, just agreed to a 6-year extension. With the top pick of the draft, they selected a two-way player in Wiggins, who is thought to have the most potential in a very deep class. Waiters started about half of last season, despite injuries and a rumored locker room issue, with King James on the squad he becomes the sixth man as a scorer off the pine. Thompson would be continue to start alongside Zeller, or at the very least play big minutes in a rotation with Anderson Varejao. Varejao is a hustle player that does the dirty work, he played with James back in the day and has been sidelined with a variety of injuries the past few years.

Owner Dan Gilbert was understandably emotional after losing LeBron James. He was certainly out of line with some things, but rest assured James’ decision was a bombshell and Gilbert’s letter isn’t much of a hindrance. The new head coach from overseas is well-respected. David Blatt brings a positive personality and you can click here to see his countless accolades.