Non-LeBrons in flux as decision from James beckons

Cavaliers locker room somber, contemplative on James' future

Alex Hooper
June 09, 2018 - 1:36 am
Jun 8, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) reacts with guard George Hill (3) at the bench after leaving the game during the fourth quarter in game four of the 2018 NBA Finals Golden State Warriors at Quicken Loans Arena

© David Richard-USA TODAY Sports


Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Whatever LeBron James’ next decision will be, it was not on his mind after being swept by the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. He may have been the only one.

The physical toll of 104 NBA games evident by the 33-year-old’s newfound body armor of ice packs on his knees, his feet dunked in ice water beneath him. The mental toll of three separate seasons rolled into one apparent as James sat at his locker with his head covered with a towel.

James paid a price for playing in Cleveland as a championship team came together and fell apart, leaving him to carry the weight of an entire organization for the long haul.

The rest of the Cavalier locker room was somber, the emotion apparent on swingman Rodney Hood’s face as he stared blankly forward as the media descended.

Whether or not Hood will be back as a restricted free agent is mostly out of his control. Even those who are bound to their contracts with the wine and gold past this summer are without control of their fate, making the finality of a Finals loss potentially more… final.

The likes of 37-year-old Kyle Korver is signed through 2019, as are 32-year-olds JR Smith and George Hill. None of the trio may see the NBA Finals again should James depart in the off-season. Young players like Larry Nance and Jordan Clarkson could see their ascent from the bottom to the top head back to the valley as fast as it happened in February.

The often maligned Kevin Love could see the best stretch of his career come to an end after asking to be dealt to Cleveland in 2014.

Yet Love has no idea what is coming.

“It’s something where I’m sure he will spend time with his family and when that times comes to make a decision, he will be in a good frame of mind,” Love said. “Obviously, I’d love to play with LeBron the rest of my career, but that will be a choice that he makes.”

Should LeBron leave in free agency, it would seem it would to be a matter of time before Love was dealt for younger pieces and draft picks. The only certainty for the soon-to-be 30-year-old is that those questions would come post-game.

“Anything is possible. People have been saying that for the past four years,” Love added. “But I like to be here. I’ve always said that. Always wanted to win here.”

Hill will have the benefit of making $19 million in 2019 regardless of if James departs, so it would be difficult to fault the point guard for worrying too much about who surrounds him.

The story of Hill’s career to this point has been playing for a team that came just short, and while the song may remain the same, he admitted he wants more.

“From what I know, everybody will be back until we know otherwise. Still, most of these guys are supposed to be back this year, and that’s all I’m focused on,” Hill said. “I’m very excited, very happy to get the opportunity to play with him and hopefully he’ll come back next year still a part of it and we can do a lot more.”

Hill could also be used to facilitate a deal should James exit, owed $19 million next season, but just $1 million guaranteed in the next.

Like the Cavaliers’ season, the locker room closed a little quicker than it seemed it maybe should have and with nothing to say from Smith, nor Korver. Tristan Thompson also made a quick exit.

The exit of just about every player on the Cavalier roster could come similarly quick depending on James’ decision.