- The Cleveland Cavaliers are mired in a slump and are reportedly divided in the locker room.
- LeBron James is unhappy that the Cavaliers failed to land Paul George and Eric Bledsoe in offseason trades, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
- ESPN reported in the summer that the Cavs were angry that the trade fell through.
- Had those two deals gone through, it’s possible that the Cavs would be in a better position than they are now.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are mired in a slump and imploding like we’ve never seen before.
The team is just 3-10 since Christmas, with its defense has plummeted to worst in the league during that stretch.
Several of Cleveland’s most important role players are having disappointing seasons, and Isaiah Thomas, who was counted upon to provide a big scoring punch when he returned to the floor from a hip injury, is clearly still rusty.
Frustrations reportedly spilled over this week, with ESPN reporting that a fiery team meeting left the locker room divided and in need of change.
While the current slump surely is playing into the team’s unhappiness, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, some offseason events may also be affecting LeBron James’ current mood. Windhorst said on Zach Lowe’s podcast, “The Lowe Post,” that failed offseason deals for Paul George and Eric Bledsoe have made James unhappy.
“What’s really pissing LeBron off is that he felt that like the Cavs could have gotten Paul George and Eric Bledsoe. And they didn’t get them,” Windhorst said.
These deals have been mentioned before. ESPN reported over the summer that the Cavs had a three-way deal involving Kevin Love with the Denver Nuggets and Indiana Pacers to get George to the Cavs, but that it fell through. Lowe said the Cavs were still “smarting” over the failed deal months later.
Additionally, ESPN reported in January that the Cavs had also discussed a three-team trade with the Phoenix Suns and Pacers that would have sent Bledsoe to the Cavs. The deal would have included Irving, and when it fell through, it reportedly rubbed Irving the wrong way. Irving then requested a trade, and the Cavs sent him to the Boston Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first-round draft pick.
It’s unclear if these two trades were tied together or would have occurred separately, but according to Windhorst, James felt the Cavs could have had both George and Bledsoe.
“Whether or not having Paul George and Eric Bledsoe would have made a difference when it really matters, I don’t know,” Windhorst said. “But I know that that’s what LeBron thinks about, because he knows that was on the table and they couldn’t execute back in June.”
In addition to Thomas’ struggles, Crowder is having perhaps his worst season since his rookie year. The Nets’ pick was reportedly the key to the deal for the Cavs, as it could provide a nice safety net if James leaves in free agency this summer. It also could be a solid trade piece if the Cavs look for help at the trade deadline.
Either way, it doesn’t appear James is happy. Not only did he want Bledsoe and George, he reportedly told the Cavs not to trade Irving after Irving’s request, but the Cavs wanted to move on.
As time goes on, it seems more and more like the Cavs’ last seven months could prove to be a watershed moment in the NBA. Coming off a Finals loss, the Cavs failed to land two star players – one of whom ended up joining a super-team in Oklahoma City – and then were forced to deal one star player to a rising team in the Eastern Conference. Going forward, how the Cavs try to turn this season around, and if it’ll be enough to keep LeBron James, could end up shaping the entire NBA.