The Cleveland Cavaliers seemingly catered to impending free agent LeBron James by moving Isaiah Thomas in a blockbuster deal with the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.
This moves forces Cleveland to take on Jordan Clarkson’s remaining contract ($25.9 million over next two seasons) while yielding two expiring contracts in that of Thomas and Channing Frye. The thought process here has to be that Cleveland was signaling to LeBron that he’s the future of the organization.
Unfortunately, Thursday’s trade didn’t come with the caveat of James guaranteeing that he will remain with the Cavaliers following this season.
“The Cavs did not get a commitment from LeBron James that he will stay past this season before executing today’s trade, sources said. Team still took on $28 million and traded a future first,” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported.
That’s a pretty big risk right there. If LeBron does indeed move on to another team in free agency, Cleveland would then be forced to go into full-scale rebuild mode. By taking on Clarkson’s contract and giving up a first-round pick, this could handcuff said rebuild over the long term.
Banking on a player in James who doesn’t have a relationship with the team’s front office seems to be fool’s gold. But it is typical of an organization that seems to be winging it.