LeBron’s return to Cleveland was supposed to be his last move. He intended to win a title for Cleveland and retire as a Cavalier. As we know now, not everything went according to plan. The tipping point for his move to the Lakers was Kyrie asking for a trade.
In a recent story by Joe Vardon of The Athletic, LeBron was quoted saying this:
Everyone knows that when Kyrie got traded it was the beginning of the end for everything. It’s not a secret. You realize at that point in time, take nothing from Koby, because Koby (was just named GM), but at that point in time, you realize that Koby’s not the only one running the team, as (former GM David Griffin) had done, and that’s why Griff was let go pretty much
LeBron’s relationship with the Cavs owner was never great and his series of short contracts in his second stint with the Cavs were a result of that. When you don’t trust someone, you don’t commit long-term. Still, he planned to end his career in Cleveland. Most people will criticize Dan Gilbert and his management style, especially the turnover rate with GM’s and coaches in Cleveland. One thing he can’t be criticized for is saving money on the team. He signed off on a lot of contracts that seemed inflated the moment they were signed (who said Klutch, I didn’t say Klutch) and even more so now.
Yer, it appears that LeBron had his share of responsibility in disrupting Cleveland development. He admitted that Kyrie leaving was the tipping point, and for that he primarily has himself to blame. Kyrie left because he didn’t want to play with LeBron and this is a pattern we see more and more in younger players in the league. Just ask Kevin Love how was it in Cleveland for those four years.
Superstars are almost always challenging to be around, that’s part of the package you get. LeBron was no stranger to throwing shade and subtweeting his teammates in quite childish ways. As much as he is a fantastic playmaker and a willing passer, it was always ‘my way or the highway’ with him. As we wrote before, shooting technicals while Kyrie and Korver are on the team are a window into his mentality. Those are free points, and a player chasing greatness will take every opportunity. The offensive system was LeBron doing his thing, and you better not miss when he passes the ball. That is not an easy thing to do.
Still, it would appear LeBron doesn’t fully acknowledge his responsibility and the necessity to change. In the article by Joe Vardon it is clear LeBron was consulted before the Kyrie trade and explicitly told the Cavs he doesn’t want Kyrie to be traded. There is some difference of opinion on this next part, but according to LeBron’s side fo the story he was told Kyrie will not be traded. A few minutes later, Kyrie was traded.
Now, LeBron doesn’t hold this against Koby Altman (Cavs GM) as he clearly believes Gilbert went over his head and made the trade. While this all may be true, why did Kyrie want a trade in the first place? Seems LeBron still does not appreciate the difficulty of playing (and living) under his shadow.
Does this mean LeBron evolved on this matter and will let the younger stars know that he will give them more leadership if they join him in LA? Maybe.
Will they believe he is capable of doing that? Maybe.
Will LeBron accept his part of the blame if Davis or Kawhi or KD don’t come to LA next summer? May….probably not.