LeBron James isn’t happy with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Specifically, the King reportedly has issues with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, who LeBron believes is backing down from his promise to spend as much as necessary to keep Cleveland in title contention. That’s why LeBron clarified his comments from earlier this week on Twitter, saying he didn’t have an issue with GM David Griffin.
And on some level, it makes sense LeBron might have been with Gilbert. According to ESPN.com, that continued spending was one of LeBron’s major demands when he came back to the Cavaliers in 2014. If the Cavs owner isn’t committed to doing everything he can to win a championship, maybe LeBron needs to reconsider his options.
Yet on Friday’s episode of Undisputed on FS1, Skip Bayless pointed out that LeBron isn’t innocent here. If he really wanted help, LeBron should have taken a page out of Tim Duncan’s book.
SKIP: LeBron, why don’t you follow the Tim Duncan method? Why don’t you just say, “I’m making more money than I’ll ever spend off the court.” … So why, if in fact you want to catch Michael Jordan, why don’t you simply say, “Well, there is this thing called the salary cap, and if I take the Tim Duncan route here …”
Tim Duncan over his last three seasons with the Spurs made $10.3, $10.3, and last year, $6 million, by his choice. Tim Duncan? The great Tim Duncan, an all-time top-five player? He could have said, “I have earned the right to make the max,” all the way home. … But what if he had said, “I’ll take $30 [million],” over those last three years. What would it have done to the Spurs’ quality depth? Because their second five can be just as lethal as their first five can.
Why is that? Because Tim Duncan took so little money. He took a third, and a third, and then maybe a fourth of what LeBron James was making, because he said, “I need to open up the back end of our salary cap for all those role players we have coming off the bench.”
Shannon Sharpe was quick to respond with LeBron’s own words, as the King has previously stated he wanted a max deal with the Cavaliers because he’d never been the highest-paid player in the NBA, despite being the best basketball player on the planet.
And therein lies the rub. Did LeBron deserve to be paid at a level commensurate with his skill? Absolutely. Did his decision to cash out affect Cleveland’s ability to put together the best team possible? Also yes.
Unfortunately for LeBron and the Cavaliers, the NBA’s salary cap forces stars to choose between earning what they’re owed and trying to win titles. Only the very brightest front offices (like, say, that one in the Bay Area of California) can put together superteams while making sure everyone gets paid — and even that takes an awful lot of luck.
Either way, LeBron’s contract is already on the books. There’s no going back. So what might be next for the King and his Cavs?