Decision 2 Return: The Prodigal Son

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On the brink of perhaps the biggest free agent signing in franchise history and the return of perhaps the best player that once wore a Cavalier uniform, those of us at CST, along with the rest of the Cavalier fans, far and wide, wait with baited breath for an answer regarding LeBron James’ “The Decision: Part 2.” Most of the CST staff is unified in the belief that LeBron James will be returning, though with nothing confirmed, there remains a great deal of skepticism. Since the end of the NBA Finals, I have done a great deal of reflecting about the potential for LeBron to return. I’ve constantly had a keen eye turned to the happenings of the 2014 free agent summer, and to me, the signs all point to a return.

Social media “hints” from LeBron aside, if one is able to read between the lines of what has transpired in free agency, it seems as if the stars are aligning and soon we’ll hear of a James return.

EXAMPLE 1: One of the very first signs to me was that after the Finals, the initial report was that the Big Three would all opt-out and take less money so the Heat could bring in more free agents to help them. Days after this initial report, it was reported LeBron James is insisting on a max contract. With LeBron’s max contract and the salaries of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh (even with the latter two at a reduced price), the Heat did not free up much money for other free agents who would make a difference. To me, LeBron’s sudden change of heart was a way to cripple the Heat and make it difficult to add talent, giving him a perfect excuse to leave.

EXAMPLE 2: Free agents the Heat have targeted have not shown any interest in going to the Heat to play for a reduced price. There has been no improvement to the Heat roster, whatsoever.

EXAMPLE 3: The Cavs have allowed the likes of CJ Miles and Spencer Hawes to walk away to other teams. CJ Miles left for 4 years/$18 million and Spencer Hawes for 4 years/$23 million. If the Cavs really wanted either of those guys, they could have offered either of them more money than what they took. But the Cavs need to keep cap space for LeBron.

EXAMPLE 4: Kyrie Irving QUICKLY agreed to an extension with the Cavaliers. Even Cleveland fans must wonder why. The Cavs have been pretty bad in the time Kyrie has spent here and Kyrie is a budding star in the league at only 22 years old. Though he would have been turning down a large chunk of guaranteed money to leave Cleveland, he certainly could make that money up elsewhere where his team would be having more success. Certain sources suggest that Kyrie and LeBron have a behind-the-scenes relationship. LeBron certainly has had some good things to say about Kyrie. I wonder if there may have been some dialogue there.

EXAMPLE 5: As it seems likely that Carmelo Anthony will return to New York, teams like the Houston Rockets are looking for other answers in free agency. Multiple sources in the national media have reported that the Rockets will turn their attention to Chris Bosh. Why? Bosh made it pretty clear that his priority is Miami, but that seems to be only if LeBron returns. Why would the Rockets (and other teams, for that matter) waste time chasing Bosh if executives really thought that LeBron would return to Miami?

EXAMPLE 6: It was first reported by ESPN’s Josina Anderson that the Miami Heat were in talks with representatives for Luol Deng. Pretend for a second that Miami wanted to add Luol Deng to the roster which included the Big Three: I struggle to see how adding Luol Deng to the Heat’s roster from last season would help them. Luol Deng is a perimeter defender and so is LeBron. There were also multiple reports that Deng was not willing to take a pay cut to join the Heat, but now his representatives are meeting with Pat Riley? Sure looks like Miami is looking for a LeBron replacement to me.

From a Cavalier standpoint, the organization has done seemingly everything in its power to be attractive to LeBron. Through trade speculation about players such as Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao over the past couple seasons, the Cavaliers chose to keep both players. Why? Almost certainly because each player has a personal friendship and connection with LeBron. The Cavs are stacked with talent and are looking for a leader. LeBron is looking for a team with max cap space and the ability to win not only this year, but for many years to come.

Seems like a match made in Heaven.

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