Grade the Trade: Could Cavaliers make this deal?
LeBron James is arguably the greatest player in the history of basketball; he is inarguably the greatest athlete in Ohio sports history, and he has a reasonable case weighed against a handful of US Presidents as the most influential and famous person in the history of the state. He is beloved in his hometown; shoot, our website is named after him. His return would be welcomed by fans.
The problem is that this trade makes absolutely no sense for the Cavaliers. They are building something special with their young core of Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen and Donovan Mitchell. Whether or not Mitchell sticks around, this is a group that should continue to grow together and look to contend for years to come.
Trading for a 39-year-old, for all that he seems immune to the effects of aging, is a short-term grab at a title that would almost certainly still be out-of-reach. Then, once LeBron either retires or opts out of his contract, they would be left with absolutely nothing for the star guard they traded the farm for just over a year ago. LeBron will certainly be retired well before the Cavaliers finish paying out the draft picks the Utah Jazz now own.
The on-court fit is somewhat awkward as well. LeBron James is not a small forward anymore and thrives with spacing around him. Placing Darius Garland and Max Strus in the backcourt would make sense, but Mobley and Allen would constrict the spacing on the court and give LeBron no room to operate inside. This is not a team that would be winning a championship this season.
If LeBron James wants to opt out of his lucrative final season and sign on a bargain deal in Cleveland, the Cavaliers would certainly welcome that. Perhaps if the Lakers asked for a deal built around Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen the Cavs would consider it. But this deal is not a short-term solution and it's a long-term disaster.