The NBA finals are about to tip off but for most, the real excitement will start as soon as they wrap up, when names like Kevin Durant, Paul George and LeBron James become available. Every single thing any of those guys say will be examined with a microscope, and James’ latest comments on the relationship between him and Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert (via Brian Windhorst of ESPN)
“I’ve tried to put this franchise at a level that is always seen in a positive light,” James said. “From a basketball standpoint, from a social standpoint, from a brand standpoint. I get a lot of the light and the headlines, but I’m one, as long as I’m here playing for this franchise, when you see the Cavaliers, I want you to think of prestige and a great organization.”
When Nichols asked if James’ relationship with Gilbert would affect his free-agency decision, James said, “We’re going to see.”
For those who think he’s going to depart in the offseason, they’ll read those quotes as “he’s happy with what he accomplished in Cleveland, but his time there is done, with Gilbert being one of the reasons for his departure.”
Heartwarming moment between LeBron and Dan Gilbert on the way to the trophy presentation. pic.twitter.com/ImlcuepPfp— Noah Coslov (@NoahCoslov) May 28, 2018
Those who think he’s staying might hope he’s proud enough in the aforementioned progress to not let Gilbert sway him too far in the direction of leaving.
The answer, as usual, is somewhere in the middle. His relationship with Gilbert is famously ugly. But if what’s best for him and his family is to stay in Cleveland, that’s what he’ll do. If he considers everything and decides a move to Houston, Philadelphia or here to Los Angeles makes more sense, well then sticking it to Gilbert is just another benefit of how things worked out.
Here’s where the Lakers’ organizational history might help just a bit.
The Buss family has always maintained great relationships with their superstars, almost to a fault. The Lakers have always considered the franchise to be something close to a family. If James values that kind of relationship in his next destination, that’s just another thing Magic Johnson, Rob Pelinka and Jeanie Buss can point to, on top of everything else this team and city has to offer.
We’re inching closer to the offseason, where quotes like these will have fans swinging back and forth in how they think things might turn out almost hourly. These finals will be fascinating as body language will be analyze for any hint of what might come when they end.
As with any other offseason in which James is a free agent, it will all start with his decision, so it’s fitting he’d kind of kick things off with these quotes.
On the latest Locked on Lakers podcast, Adam Mares and I discussed these quotes. That conversation starts in segment three, right around 16 minutes in. You can listen below.