“I think we became a younger team, more athletic. We added some more shooting as well. So, we’ll have to see how it meshes,” James said. “I like the pieces that we have coming in.”
“Me and D-Wade? It ain’t tough,” James laughed. “I see him all the time. I’m happy as hell for D-Wade. He gets to go back home. That’s how it should be. I’ve always felt that’s where his heart and his mind was. I think it’s going to be great for him. “It wasn’t tough. We’re both 15 years in the league. We know how the business is. But more important, we know we see each other all the time anyway, so, ‘get out of here D-Wade,’” he joked.
“I want Isaiah to get his bounce back, get his spring back, get healthy,” James said. “You know, being out seven months is difficult for anybody. I just felt like he was playing behind the 8-ball. … I wish the best for him. In LA right now and his future, I want him to get that bounce back, get that spring back.”
Did Isaiah Thomas inspire this move with his outspoken ways in these past few weeks? Amick: In a word, yes. The locker room dynamic was not healthy, and Thomas’ penchant for speaking his mind about the inner turmoil only made matters worse. Add in the fact that he struggled during his 15-game stay and the Cavs were more than happy to send him to the exits. There is a strong sense from Thomas’ side that James was among those who wanted to see him go – a claim that is refuted by James’ associates. Either way, Thomas now gets a better pathway to his own free agency this summer while the Cavs can get to work repairing their well-chronicled chemistry problems.
Koby Altman: “I think we’re going to get a rejuvenated LeBron James, and that’s the key. This guy is so good he dictates outcomes.”
— Jon Krawczynski (@JonKrawczynski) February 9, 2018
The feeling among executives around the league is that James will choose between bolting for the Lakers and sticking with the Cavaliers next summer. The Lakers would offer him what he is looking for down the stretch of his career — a good place to move his family, a ready-made winning situation (if he could bring another top-tier star with him) and an opportunity to be connected with the entertainment industry. From a lifestyle standpoint, LA would be hard to beat.
Before the deadline, the entire future of the Cavs was latched to LeBron James’ 2018 free-agency decision. The moves they made, though, allow them to stay afloat as a franchise no matter what James does — and that could make James more likely to stay. “I would have said it was a 50-50 proposition that he would go back to Cleveland this summer before all of this, even a week ago,” one league executive told Sporting News. “I think this moves it more in the Cavs’ favor. They’re younger and deeper. If the lifestyle is all the same to him, and I don’t know that it is, I’d think he would stay in Cleveland.
“I would put it from 50-50 a week ago to now, something like 75-25 that he stays. Even if they don’t win this year, they’ve given themselves room to grow.”
James has often called for the Cavaliers to add two-way players in order to compete with the likes of the Golden State Warriors. These deals addressed that. It also should fix some chemistry issues that existed ever since the start of training camp; issues that included the role of James’ good friend, Wade. Sending Wade back to Miami was a tricky move. But the Cavs’ decision makers handled it as well as can be expected, keeping James in the loop during the process, a team source told ESPN.