Many fans label the Cleveland Cavaliers as the team with the best near-term and long-term opportunity for LeBron James. Certainly the Cavaliers are a team possessing potential, starring Andrew Wiggins and Kyrie Irving, but their youth leads to much uncertainty and unpredictable results. Because of this, the best option for James is signing a short-term deal with the Miami Heat and reviewing his options once again at a later date.
The Cavaliers’ biggest asset is Irving, who would be a great sidekick to James. He has the ability to catch and shoot and take some of the pressure off of James offensively. Other than Irving, however, the Cavaliers boast little to no outside shooting and an unproven supporting cast.
Another selling point to James is Wiggins, the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Wiggins certainly has the potential to be a great player for years to come, but he is only a 19-year-old who has not played one game in the NBA. He has the ability to defend the perimeter right away, but what he can do offensively in the NBA immediately is yet to be seen.
For those who have watched Dion Waiters, it is easy to see his weaknesses. Waiters, a career 42.4 percent shooter, stops the movement of the ball on offense and needs a high volume of shots to be an “effective” scorer. He has poor vision, and although he can get to the rim, he struggles to finish. After selecting him after starting zero games in his college career at Syracuse, he has yet to justify the No. 4 pick overall.
The biggest problem on Cleveland’s roster is the big men, who are pitiful. Tristan Thompson‘s shooting was so atrocious that he had to change the hand he uses to shoot last offseason. Although he is a high-motor type of player, Thompson is not a formidable low-post presence. Next to him, Anderson Varejao has thoroughly declined over the last few years, and his injuries are worrisome at the age of 31.
At head coach, David Blatt will also need time and patience to adapt in his new role in the NBA. Although he is known as an offensive genius, he has never dealt with the egos the NBA possesses, and he will certainly have some growing pains as well.
Reminiscing back four years ago, James left Cleveland to join a 47-win team that was adding All-Star big man Chris Bosh. Still, that team did not win the Finals the year after, and I cannot imagine how difficult it would be to win an NBA Finals with an even younger, less-talented group in the first few years in Cleveland. Those young Cavaliers won only 33 games last year and will need at least one or two more years to gel before becoming a championship-caliber team with the league’s best player. Growing pains will be necessary for these Cavaliers, but they are not necessary for James.
Those saying Miami was not a good enough team to retain James are not correct. Miami’s offense was brilliant, boasting the second-highest offensive efficiency in the playoffs. The Heat ran through the Eastern Conference, losing only three games before the NBA Finals. Sure, the Heat were dismantled by the Spurs, but credit has to be given to San Antonio. The Spurs were simply on a mission and produced one of the greatest offensive performances in NBA Finals history. And do not forget, it is very possible that the whole series changes if James does not cramp up in Game 1, opening up the chance that the Heat go back home leading the series two-to-zero.
In the end, James should return to Miami in a short-term deal, wait to see how Blatt adapts in his new role and see if Wiggins is truly the real deal. By signing a short-term contract that keeps him in Miami, James would have the opportunity to play alongside proven champions under a proven coach in a proven organization for one or two more years. When individual Cavaliers gain experience and assert themselves as integral pieces to a championship puzzle, then Cleveland becomes a smart option for James. Until then, James should keep his talents in South Beach.