While the NBA frenzy has cooled a little bit today versus Monday and Tuesday, everything that has happened with the Cavs this week bears further discussion. Within an hour of engaging in Jimmy Butler trade talks, GM David Griffin was shown the door by Dan Gilbert. Then, yesterday, a variety of reports indicated that Butler did not want to be a Cleveland Cavalier.
While Cleveland is not as desirable a city to reside in as Chicago, this was a headscratching decision. The Cavs are a Kevin Durant injury away from being overwhelming championship favorites next season. Was Jimmy Butler given a reason he should want to stay away? Citing LeBron’s history, Dan Le Batard thinks that may be the case.
After discussing Wright Thompson’s recent ESPN the Magazine profile on Pat Riley, in which Riley revealed he nearly had a similar public reaction to Dan Gilbert’s comic sans statement but was relieved he was talked out of it, Le Batard relayed this story:
“One of the reasons he was that angry is because while he was trying to get information from LeBron, on vacation, where he’s sending him texts, ‘Rank these free agents 1-5 in terms of how you like them … Josh McRoberts, Danny Granger … he not only was not getting any responses back, the Miami Heat felt that LeBron James was playing defense against them getting Pau Gasol, for example. Riley thought he had Pau Gasol locked up and that LeBron was being cryptic with Pau by text and that spooked Pau Gasol.”
“And that’s something that bears watching right now with LeBron James,” Le Batard continued. “If he’s already decided that he’s checked out, he would do things like tell Jimmy Butler, ‘Hey don’t go there. You’re gonna get stuck there for many years. He would do stuff that would prevent them from being good right away if he’s already decided that he’s leaving.”
For what it’s worth, Gasol acknowledged in 2014 that the uncertainty of LeBron’s situation was a factor in his signing with Chicago, and that it “seemed like LeBron wasn’t going to go back,” but denied that LeBron advised him not to sign in Miami. Furthermore, Dwyane Wade certainly didn’t know LeBron was going to leave, because his opt out that summer cost him about $10 million.
The thing that doesn’t make the most sense about this is that LeBron still has one more year in Cleveland. His biological clock is ticking. He’s going to altruistically keep Jimmy Butler away and in the process ostensibly lower his own title probabilities?
More likely, to me, is that Butler has the same inductive reasoning talents as many. Woj said Los Angeles could be a destination for LeBron LeBron’s obvious subtweet at Gilbert didn’t calm matters down. It feels almost inevitable that LeBron will leave Cleveland again. The tea leaves can be read in rather large font.