The Cleveland Cavaliers are up against the wall heading into Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Finals matchup against the Boston Celtics this coming Saturday. Having been blown out in the first two games of the series, it certainly doesn’t look like Cleveland has the capability of competing against Boston moving forward.
Only time will tell on that front.
But as an era of contending basketball in Cleveland potentially comes to an end here soon, we’re starting to hear a bit more about the dynamics behind the scenes.
According to Jason Lloyd of The Athletic, this includes the idea that both head coach Tyronn Lue and star forward LeBron James wanted their Cavaliers to make a deal for Los Angeles Clippers big man DeAndre Jordan during February’s trade deadline.
“Now, however, they can no longer say they’re ‘All-In.’ They cannot say they did whatever they could to keep LeBron here this time,” Lloyd reported. “Doing whatever they could to keep him would’ve meant dealing for DeAndre Jordan at the trade deadline, the rim-protecting center Lue coveted and James equally wanted badly. Instead, the Cavs hedged, collecting a group of twenty-somethings that can grow together in the event James is off to Houston or Philadelphia or Los Angeles or some other contender next season.”
Linked to Jordan in the lead up to the trade deadline, it makes sense that this might be leaked right now. It seems that there might be a rift between LeBron James and those in the Cavaliers’ organization tasked with making sure the team is in decent shape should James actually depart in free agency this summer.
To be clear: Cavaliers GM Koby Altman isn’t really in the wrong here. By adding the likes of Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. and Rodney Hood to the mix, Cleveland picked up pieces that could play a role moving forward. Jordan can opt out of his contract and become a free agent this summer.
The split here is real. James wanted to sacrifice long term for the potential to contend over the short term. The same can be said about a head coach in Lue who is clearly on the hot seat. It will certainly be something to look at should Cleveland find itself eliminated from title contention by Boston.