The Cleveland Cavaliers have, in LeBron James’ second stint with the team, gone through rough patches in the regular season before. That tends to happen when you have the best player on the planet and know you can cakewalk your way to the NBA Finals once the playoffs roll around.
The Cavs are 3-9 over the past month and have the second-worst defensive rating in the NBA, surrendering 109.3 points per 100 possessions, better only than the Sacramento Kings.
And apparently it’s gotten so bad, some anonymous Cavaliers don’t think they’ll be able to right the ship this time around.
From ESPN’s Dave McMenamin:
… multiple players acknowledged growing discontent and a strong sense of concern that unlike past seasons, the team does not have the capability to fix its problems and get back on a championship track.
Several prominent players, speaking on condition of anonymity to ESPN, Cleveland.com and The Athletic, expressed doubt that the problems — an aging roster, defensively challenged personnel and a glut of redundant role players — could simply be worked out through patience and a chance to coalesce when fully healthy.
The uncertainty of LeBron’s future—is he re-signing in Cleveland, or taking his talents elsewhere this summer?—isn’t helping. With an assurance that he’ll stick around, the team has the juicy Brooklyn Nets’ first-round draft pick to dangle in a potential trade to improve the team. But, understandably, the team’s hesitant to give up such an asset for a win-now move and risk being left with nothing come 2018-19.
But wait a tick—if LeBron planned all along to leave via free agency this summer, isn’t this what he wants? With the Cavaliers in shambles, who could blame the hometown hero from picking up and taking his championship aspirations elsewhere?
Hell, ESPN’s report even cited “prominent” Cavaliers. Could that mean LeBron himself, or perhaps his best pal Dwyane Wade?
Whether or not that’s the case, that players are so worried the team is going nowhere is the strongest indication that the marriage between LeBron and the Cavaliers could be ending for a second time.