Just a day after Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James ripped President Donald Trump for sowing division on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it seems his own team is rather divided.
“We are in a difficult state right now as Americans, as well with the leader of our country,” James said.
Well, as the de facto “leader” of the Cavaliers, LeBron James might want to refrain from throwing stones in glass houses.
Multiple outlets, including ESPN, are reporting that the Cavaliers have become a fractured unit amid a 3-9 skid since Dec. 19.
Two of those losses were back-to-back blowouts by 28 and 34 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves and Toronto Raptors, respectively.
The reports say morale is at an all-time low for Cleveland.
While the Cavaliers have experienced similar struggles in the last three seasons, all of which the team ultimately made the NBA Finals, there is apparently a different malaise setting in this year.
The bleak reality of an aging roster, one-dimensional specialists and the murky health of Isaiah Thomas seems to be setting in.
The Cavaliers are also an abysmal defensive team this year, ranking in the bottom five of NBA teams in points allowed per game following the team’s 118-108 loss to the Golden State Warriors on MLK Day.
In short, Cleveland players seem to have lost faith that the team can compete for a championship this year.
For the optimist, one could presume that James will play stronger defense come playoff time. One could also hope for Thomas to return to full health after a worrisome hip injury.
But the realist could just as easily expect James’ defense to continue to wane as he wraps up his 15th season, and even a fully healthy Thomas is still only generously listed 5-foot-9 and a defensive liability.
One possible solution for Cleveland could be a big trade, with the trade deadline of Feb. 8 rapidly approaching.
The Cavaliers have a big trade chip in the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick, but reports suggest the team would like to keep the pick in case James leaves in free agency.
Without question, his pending free agency is another cloud hanging over the splintering team.
James could easily dispel Cleveland’s uncertain future by saying he will return next year, but ever the “leader,” he feels compelled to leave his team hanging.
Also, it’s unclear that trade would even aid the team. It’s difficult to re-establish chemistry by bringing in a slew of new faces.
The grim prospects of this Cleveland team seems to have soured the team’s chemistry, and team leader LeBron James doesn’t seem like he can be bothered to fix it.
What a leader.
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