Monday , Nov , 24 , 2008 Oly Sandor

5 Ways Cleveland Can Keep LeBron James

You know the situation. However, this story got new legs when the small forward recently admitted he would leave Cleveland for the right offer. And New York, his apparent destination of choice, traded big-tickets Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph for expiring contracts. The plot thickens. Even anti-conspiracy theorists and the greatest of Cavalier homers have concerns. The Knicks only have eighteen million dollars on the books for the 2011 season. The five boroughs could ink James, max out another star (like Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh), and add several blending pieces. The possibilities are endless …


5 Ways Cleveland Can Keep LeBron James

Every week, HoopsVibe The Blog drops a basketball related list for fans to weigh-in on. We call it ‘Listed’ …

Years ago, with his rookie contract expiring, I wrote a story detailing how Cleveland could re-sign franchise superstar LeBron James. In ‘To Keep LeBron’, I urged new Cavalier owner Dan Gilbert to back off the basketball operations, hire a qualified executive and coach, and supply a legitimate supporting cast.

History repeats itself.

In eighteen months, King James becomes an unrestricted free agent. He can pick a new kingdom and Cleveland would get nothing in return.

You know the situation. However, this story got new legs when the small forward recently admitted he would leave Cleveland for the right offer. And New York, his apparent destination of choice, traded big-tickets Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph for expiring contracts.

The plot thickens. Even anti-conspiracy theorists and the greatest of Cavalier homers have concerns. The Knicks only have eighteen million dollars on the books for the 2011 season. The five boroughs could ink James, max out another star (like Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh), and add several blending pieces. The possibilities are endless.

In this edition of ‘Listed’, HoopsVibe the Blog decided to drop five strategies the Cavaliers could use to re-sign James long-term. Some of these ideas are outside the box, but necessary in light of last week’s developments.

Desperate times. Desperate measures. As always, read the post, form an opinion, and get at us with thoughts in the comment box below.

5) Fear the Unknown …

James has a competitive squad in Cleveland, while there is no guarantee New York signs Bosh or Wade. And change can backfire. Last summer, lesser star Baron Davis left Golden State for Los Angeles partly because he assumed Elton Brand would be his teammate. Brand then departed for Philadelphia and Davis is stuck with Hollywood’s dysfunctional team.

4) Play the Loyalty Card …

James is from Ohio. His crew, the infamous four horsemen posse, grew up in nearby Akron. Winning an NBA Title in his home state and championship-starved Cleveland hopefully counts for something. The key word is hopefully. Pro sports are big business leaving little room for the sentimental.

3) Chase a True Second Star …

I’ll give Ferry credit. He has been active, constantly reshuffling the line-up and trading for complementary players. The organization hasn’t found their Robin, a legit number two guy to mesh with James.

Cleveland must convince a superstar to accept second banana status. Clearly, Larry Hughes didn’t work. And newly acquired Mo Williams won’t cut it either. Recently, there have been rumblings about bringing-in Vince Carter. I don’t think ‘VC’ is the answer, but the Cavaliers have the right idea. They must think big and provide James with the NBA’s best co-pilot.

2) Tell James to Pick a Free Agent (if option 3 fails) …

Trading for a superstar is tough, so Cleveland could instead play the free agent game in 2010. After all, the club only has 35 million dollars on the books, which means they have the cap space to keep James and chase ‘D-Wade’, Chris Bosh, or Steve Nash. Ferry and the Cavaliers must use this carrot to sign their all-world All-Star.

1) Offer Franchise Equity (The best option) …

Gilbert should consider giving James a small ownership stake (fiver percent), which could be held in-trust until he retires. There is precedence for this arrangement. Michael Jordan was a minority owner in Washington before suiting up for the Wizards. And I’ll bet Magic Johnson and David Robinson had a handshake agreement in place to join the Lakers and Spurs’ brass when they retired.

Cleveland’s best ‘max’ deal (complete with trade kickers, up-front annual salary, and a massive signing bonus) will fall short in comparison to the sponsorship dollars available in New York?

James is a businessman. He may recognize the value in having franchise equity.  

Is there any way Cleveland keeps James? Or is he New York bound? Get at us in the comment box below and come back to HoopsVibe The Blog for further NBA tidbits. Photo courtesy of Nate Kasko