The Cleveland Cavaliers are having enough problems that the idea of trading LeBron James has passed through the NBA rumor mill, but he recently put that possibility to rest.
According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, James said he’s focused on winning this season with the Cavaliers.
“I’m here for the long haul. I’m here for this season right now, [to] try to figure out ways we can still compete. I couldn’t give up on my teammates like that. I couldn’t do that. I just couldn’t do it. … I owe it to my teammates to finish this season out no matter how it ends up. I would never waive my no-trade clause.”
That eliminates the possibility of the Cavs pulling a shocking move and shipping LeBron elsewhere prior to the Feb. 8 deadline, but that seemed entirely unlikely from the start.
While context of the question likely shaped his answer, there will be people who parse that statement and see “this season.”
In the summer, James is expected to decline his player option and become an unrestricted free agent. As a result, his obligation to the Cavs lasts through 2017-18. That’s the other possible takeaway from the statement — and certainly the more dramatic one.