Beck: No Basketball Reasons For James To Stay

If LeBron James stays in Cleveland, it'll be for "sentimental" reasons, Howard Beck says

Tiki and Tierney
June 08, 2018 - 5:45 am

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Whatever happens the rest of the NBA Finals, LeBron James will have a decision to make – and sooner rather than later.

Will he stay in Cleveland? Will he go to Philly? Will he head out West to Houston? Or to the Lakers?

No one knows.

“It is a huge, huge, huge issue for him, for his team, for this city (Cleveland) – for the whole league,” Bleacher Report NBA writer Howard Beck said on Tiki and Tierney. “The balance of power tips if he goes – and depending on where he goes and who he might bring along with him. But I don’t think there’s anything that’s definite.”

Well, there’s maybe one thing that’s definite.

“If he stays, it’s for personal reasons,” Beck said. “If he stays, it’s because he wants to be in Northeast Ohio where he was born and raised and where his family is and it'll be about sentimental and emotional ties. If he leaves, it’ll be because of basketball reasons. There’s no basketball reasons to stay that we can see right now. I know it sounds strange to say that given that he’s in the NBA Finals. But when you look at the surrounding cast, I think the question has to be does he believe that these are the guys he can get back to the Finals with and content for championships with for the next three to five years – for the duration of his career. I think the answer to that is clearly no. 

“Not only can they not beat the Warriors,” Beck continued, “but I don’t know if they’re ever going to beat the Celtics again once the Celtics get healthy with their internal growth and the talent that they have. This Cavaliers team does not have high-level talent on it outside of LeBron – and that’s a problem.”

James, who played 82 games this season and has been a one-man wrecking crew in the postseason, has looked tired at various points in the Eastern Conference Finals and NBA Finals. He is still elite and figures to be elite for the next couple of seasons. But he needs help. And he wants to win championships.

“Nobody of his caliber ever goes into a season thinking, ‘I’m okay not competing for a championship,’” Beck said. “Now, when you’re at the end, when you’re a short-minute guy who’s a contributor and you’re already kind of in your twilight, maybe it’s a little bit different story. LeBron James is not in his twilight. LeBron James is 15 years in and he’s 33 years old, but he’s still playing at an MVP level and will probably finish no worse than second or third in the MVP voting. There’s no reason for him – while still playing at this level – that he should think, ‘I’m okay with not contending. I’m okay with being on a fourth seed or a fifth seed. I’m okay with being on a  team that can’t compete with the Celtics or maybe even the Sixers next season.’ That doesn't compute.”

While it might seem James’ only realistic options are Cleveland and Philadelphia, that’s not necessarily the case. After all, rewind one year: Chris Paul wasn’t in Houston. Paul George wasn’t in Oklahoma City.

“Things happen,” Beck said. “What if the Lakers swing a trade for Kawhi Leonard? Who knows? There’s so much that can unfold in the next few weeks that trying to speculate on where he could go and compete and contend is almost futile – because there’s going to be other moves.”