LeBron James, right, would make a series with Steph Curry and the Warriors very interesting. SBNation.com
The worst kept secret in the NBA is that LeBron James and Dan Gilbert aren’t buddy-buddy anymore. Gilbert fired the GM (David Griffin, who was significantly underpaid for his position) that LeBron liked, and Gilbert really doesn’t like paying the huge salaries ($134M+, barely 2nd in NBA to Golden State) and subsequent high luxury tax bill (reportedly near $50M).
LeBron has demanded more help from the team, but after getting all his buddies paid (JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, Tristan Kardashian Thompson, et al) the team is almost $35M over the cap and has very little to offer other teams to get that help.
Currently, this incarnation of the Cavaliers has lost 13 of their last 20 games, and have a negative point differential for the season. They are 26th in scoring defense and 28th in defensive efficiency. Let’s be honest, this team is in a free fall and can no longer be considered a contender for the Eastern Conference let alone the NBA title.
After the Rockets laid a beatdown on Cleveland at Quicken Loans Arena, LeBron suggested the NBA take them off national television since they have been so bad. LeBron knows no help is coming, and he played that way on Saturday. His teammates followed his lead.
LeBron will not commit to Cleveland, and his actions continue to indicate he will leave Cleveland in the offseason. Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cavaliers, reportedly doesn’t care if LeBron leaves because the Cavs got a title out of him and they have the Nets draft pick.
Clearly this relationship is doomed. That being said, Gilbert is an absolute fool if he is willing to lose LeBron for nothing a second time.
Enter Daryl Morey. The Rockets GM is notorious for being extremely active and a dealmaker. Call Gilbert’s bluff.
Getting some quality players and another pick would certainly help ease the hurt of losing James yet again. Why give up an asset for nothing if the intent is to rebuild?
The time is now for Morey to pounce. It’s well chronicled how much Morey has wanted that third superstar to add to James Harden and Chris Paul. LeBron and Paul have a long standing friendship. It would seem like a no-brainer that James would waive his no-trade to come to Houston. All that remains is creating an amenable package and matching salaries.
So here’s the proposal. Ryan Anderson (let’s be real, any deal has to include Ryno’s money though he has regained his shooting touch again) reigning 6MOY Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza, Chinanu Onuaku, and their 2020 1st rd pick for LeBron. The salaries work, Ryno, EG10 & Ariza are all good players (Ariza is also in a walk year) Onuaku is a young player under control cheaply for another year, and that pick will be useful.
LeBron is still arguably the best player in the world, and they will never get equal value (especially since LBJ must OK the deal anywhere he goes), but they can get some value. Moving LeBron will also get them a better pick in this year’s draft as their record will surely continue to plummet.
Meanwhile, the Rockets (and LeBron) are now a deadly threat to the Golden State Warriors. Meanwhile, the Cavs can begin their rebuild early, and have the option to keep those players or move them (Gordon has value).
It’s probably the best scenario for both Gilbert and LeBron, who are fractured beyond repair. No one stalks better than Daryl Morey. Let’s see if Gilbert really doesn’t care if LeBron leaves, call his bluff Daryl.
Houston Astros skipper Joe Espada wasted no time this week at spring training by answering one of the most talked about questions of the offseason.
Espada revealed that newly-acquired free agent Josh Hader will be the team's closer and will pitch the ninth inning, with Ryan Pressly working as the setup man.
Bryan Abreu will be tapped to pitch the seventh inning, but it wouldn't shock anyone if he had the best season of the three. But after Abreu, things get interesting in the bullpen.
Who pitches the sixth inning?
Astros GM Dana Brown gave Rafael Montero a vote of confidence, saying he's “legit.”
While we have our concerns about Montero after he finished with an ERA over five last year, there's reason for hope. The nature of relief pitchers halving up and down seasons from year to year could work in Montero's favor.
And with the salary that's already committed to him, Brown will likely give him every opportunity to justify his contract. It will be fascinating to see how Espada deploys him early on. You have to think with the boss man backing Montero, Espada will be on board too.
But if he does struggle, will Espada quickly stop using him in critical situations? The good news is, the team won't often have to turn to him in high leverage situations with Abreu, Pressly, and Hader ready to handle those duties.
Be sure to watch the video above for the full discussion about the Astros 'pen, and much more!
Don't miss Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) every week on SportsMapHouston's YouTube channel!