If LeBron James is still looking to own an NBA team, there might soon be one up for the taking.
And he’s playing for it.
While speaking on ESPN’s First Take, Stephen A. Smith added another layer to the unending saga that is the Cleveland Cavaliers by reporting that owner Dan Gilbert is looking to sell the team. Here’s a transcription of what he said, courtesy of SLAM‘s Ryne Nelson:
I’ll tell you the No. 1 reason why LeBron ain’t gonna capitulate to anything that Dan Gilbert wants to do.
“Because what Dan Gilbert wants to do—from what I’m being told—is sell the team.
“They’re more viable as a commodity if LeBron James is on your squad, as opposed to if LeBron James leaves.
“That’s one of the reasons why Dan Gilbert wanted him to commit to 3-5 years. Because within that time span, you sell the team, you get money out the wazoo.
This is huge for a number of reasons if it’s indeed true.
For starters, it might help explain why the Cavaliers are so hesitant to trade the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first-rounder. If LeBron leaves, the team won’t be as appealing to prospective buyers, but it’ll be easier to sell their suitors on the future with a top-10 draft selection in hand. And that, in turn, could be why tensions are running so high in Cleveland at the moment. LeBron and crew may know they’re kind of stuck in place, having sensed the end game, creating difficult circumstances that have led to their internal squabbling and on-court collapses.
The question is (again, assuming all this is true): How would this impact LeBron’s free agency? Would it make him more likely to leave, because he doesn’t want to play for a new ownership regime that could look to start over in the front office? Or would Gilbert, who we know LeBron doesn’t like, walking away convince the four-time MVP to stick around a little bit longer?
It’s impossible to have any answers. We’ll have to wait until July for LeBron’s free-agency decision, and barring an impromptu auction from Gilbert before then, we’ll have to wait even longer to see whether there’s anything to Smith’s findings.