From the Basement: It’s time to trade The King

Trading LeBron James. Call me crazy, but yes, this is precisely what the Cleveland Cavaliers should be looking into at this time. The hometown hero, three-time NBA champion, four-time NBA MVP needs to be traded.

The Cavs already lost superstar guard Kyrie Irving, trading him for injury-prone Isaiah Thomas. So, why change more? The answer is simple.

If James does not pick up his one-year, $36.5 million contract extension, he will become a free agent, and his departure would leave the Cavaliers with no compensation. James knows his chances to defeat the horrifyingly good NBA champion Golden State Warriors are slim. Though James believes the Cavaliers to be enough of a “superteam,” he will have to depart and create an even stronger if he wants to compete with the Warriors.

So, what could Cleveland do? The Cavaliers should seek younger talent with high potential.

This leaves quite a few options. Since James’ contract has only one year left, the Cavs would obviously not get the deserved caliber of player(s) in return for him. The Cavs would therefore be offering other teams the potential of locking up James long-term. A few young, burgeoning teams, however, may be willing to take such a risk to acquire James.

Take the Milwaukee Bucks, for instance. Giannis Antetokounmpo could easily be such a target. Although his caliber and potential may be considered untouchable, offering James could change the mind of the Bucks. Package LeBron and forward Jae Crowder in return for Antetokounmpo (and draft picks), and the Bucks may just be willing to listen.

The Bucks are only the beginning. Consider a team that could soon potentially be an NBA contender: the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Timberwolves are much improved after adding former Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler but still do not have the star power to contend with the Warriors for the Western Conference title. James would change that reality immediately and launch the Timberwolves into the territory of serious title contenders, increasing the likelihood of James re-signing with Minnesota, while the Cavaliers would be set up with a youthful new squad with potential.

While these exact trades are both extremely unlikely to occur, especially for economic purposes and contract details, the message is clear: Cleveland would have several teams willing to make a deal for James.

With rumors likely to increase in intensity, the Cavaliers should be preparing to take action. Their current squad, as proved last season, is simply not good enough to compete with the now Kevin Durant-led Warriors.

Cleveland should opt to trade LeBron James now — while they can receive something for him in return — and invest in young stars to prepare themselves for contention in the future after the era of the Golden State “superteam” comes to a close. If they refuse, and if James does choose to depart, they will most certainly be doomed to yet another period of irrelevancy.

This is an opinion article and does not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo. Grant is a sophomore at Newcomb-Tulane College. He can be reached at [email protected].

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