The Cleveland Cavaliers experienced a lot of turnover with their roster this summer. Even beyond the trade, it was clear that the team was trying to bolster their depth and allow LeBron James to rest more in games.
It turns out that experienced veterans weren’t the only type of player the team targetted. LeBron James reportedly called former Spurs wing Jonathon Simmons personally this summer in an attempt to help strengthen the team’s pitch. But according to a report by Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel, Simmons wanted to go through LeBron, not join him:
“That’s just a part about me: improving and wanting to be better and having a bigger role,” said Simmons, who left Gregg Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs in free agency this past summer in search of greater opportunities and a big payday.
“I expressed that to Pop. I said, ‘I can be good over here, but I can’t be great.’ I want to be able to go against the Kawhis night-in and night-out. I even talked to LeBron James over the phone, and he was like, ‘We want you in Cleveland.’ And I said, ‘No, I want to play against you.’ I want to be able to play against elite guys and be able to, in a couple of years down the line, be just where they are.”
This type of mindset seems somewhat comical coming from a player that isn’t an established star. Simmons has been great this season, averaging 15.1 points and 2.2 assists per game this season shooting 50.9 percent from the floor. But that’s likely not enough for the 28 year old to single-handedly get by LeBron James or Kawhi Leonard.
As we learned this summer, the motivations of a player may not always make sense to the casual fan. While Simmons would have been a nice fit for the Cavs, they simply weren’t able to offer the 3-year $20 million dollar deal he accepted with the Magic. Which may have had more to do with the decision than the opportunity to take down LeBron with a lottery team.