If the Cleveland Cavaliers really do manage to bring LeBron James back to town in the summer of 2014, the team could go from being a lottery team this season to a title contender in just over a year.
Reports are surfacing around Cleveland and the NBA that the Cavaliers are clearing salary cap room in an effort to sign James, if he chooses to become a free agent in 2014. James has also said over the last year that he would be willing to at least consider returning to Cleveland in the future.
It’s obviously too preliminary to speculate about such things, but I’m going to do so anyway because the Cavaliers would have the chance to have a great lineup.
If James would join the Cavaliers this season, he would turn a team with one of the worst records in the league into a playoff team. The Cavaliers have a lot of good young players, but they don’t have much experience and are still missing a few pieces. The presence of James on the court would make things easier on offense and defense for the Cavaliers, and would likely push some players to improve more quickly.
For the 2014-2015 season, the Cavaliers will likely have many of the same players, but they will be older and probably better.
Guard Kyrie Irving, who will be entering his fourth NBA season at that time, will likely be an All-Star and would be the most important player to pair with James. Irving is already a great player who gets other players involved but is also a terrific scorer. By the time the 2014-1015 season rolls around, he may be one of the best point guards in the NBA.
Rookie guard Dion Waiters will be entering his third NBA season at that time, and he would also do well with James on the floor. Waiters already is a dynamic scorer and he is just going to get better and better over this season and next.
Both Irving and Waiters would take pressure off of James so he would not have to do all of the scoring. In addition, Irving and James have both become excellent fourth quarter players and would play well off of each other.
Forward/center Anderson Varejao may also still be with the Cavaliers in the 2014-2015 season, and we already know that he does well playing with James. Varejao is a great rebounder and defender, and he fits in perfectly with James’ style of play. He has become a better scorer since The King left town, and if he would have stayed healthy this season he had a great chance to be named an All-Star.
Also inside, young big men Tyler Zeller and Tristan Thompson are both solid players. One or both will likely be much better by the summer of 2014 and would fit in well with James. They can both rebound and defend, and they can do much of the dirty work for the team while also getting some points.
Alonzo Gee would likely lose his place in the starting lineup if James were on the team, but he would be a great bench player who could come in and defend. He would also lose his title as the best dunker on the team, but he would still have plenty of highlight plays and would help the team
The Cavaliers would still need to pick up another player or two in order to make them championship contenders, but it would be fun to see James playing in Cleveland again and leading the Wine and Gold to the playoffs. It’s too early to speculate too much, but with the Cavaliers currently standing at 10-31, the thought of James returning at least gives fans hope that things can turn around soon.