LeBron James obviously has an Early Termination Option in his contract for the end of this year, meaning that if he likes, he can become an Unrestricted Free Agent this summer.
Whether you like or dislike LeBron or even if the thought of him back in a Cavalier uniform boils your blood, it is impossible to argue that the team would not be better with James on the team. My desire is to talk about whether it is a possibility, and I ask that you please do not inundate the thread with comments about your personal belief on whether you would welcome LeBron back or not, that is up to your own personal opinion, and is not for me to change your mind on such a topic.
My question is this: is there a better core out there that works with LeBron for the next 4-5 years than what the Cavs can offer?
First thing is first, James wants to play with stars. This would mean that the Cavaliers would have to go out and trade for Kevin Love, parting with the number one overall pick in order to do so. The trade would be the number one overall pick, Anderson Varejao, Scotty Hopson, Anthony Bennett and Alonzo Gee for Kevin Love.
This would leave the Cavs with around $43.5M on the books, meaning there would still have to be some minor cost cutting moves in order to fit a LeBron max under the cap if I understand it all properly.
This would leave Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Jarrett Jack, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters, Tyler Zeller, Sergey Karasev, and Carrick Felix left on the roster (lets assume they cut Delly to get enough to give James the max).
Is there a team that can offer a better combination than that? They have Irving and Love, along with a number of picks, along with Waiter, Thompson and Zeller as trade assets for another veteran contributor.
23-27 year old Irving is certainly going to be better than 33-37 year old Dwyane Wade, 26-30 year old Kevin Love is significantly better in a vacuum than 30-34 year old Chris Bosh and the Heat would be capped out with no real assets of note to build around.
So it is clear to me that - in purely winning terms - Cleveland is the more appealing destination than Miami. There is only one team that I would think could provide a better situation purely in terms of winning and that is:
Should OKC want to do this, they could (I think, I'm not 100% sure under the current CBA) sign and trade Russell Westbrook and Andre Roberson for LeBron. Obviously the Durant/Ibaka duo is better than that of Irving and Love. They also are full of assets that they could either let develop or look to trade for veteran contributors.
All of this being said, I think the money is on LeBron staying with Miami. But if he values winning and winning alone, he could do worse than the Cavs.