The Cleveland Cavaliers are just 5-6 in January after dropping Monday night’s game to the New Orleans Pelicans, and LeBron James can’t contain his frustration.
Despite the loss, Cleveland is perched atop the Eastern Conference with a 30-16 record, but the margin between themselves and the Toronto Raptors is closer than they’d like. With just 2.5 games separating the first and second seeds, DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and co. are breathing down down the Cavaliers’ neck, and there’s a sense that James feels his roster is inadequate.
Jason Lloyd of Ohio.com reported James’ blasting of the organization and how the team is put together, and he had a lot to say:
“We’re not better than last year, from a personnel standpoint … we’re a top-heavy team. I just hope that we’re not satisfied as an organization. I just hope we not satisfied. How hard it was to do that s—. I just hope we’re not satisfied.
“I don’t got no time to waste. I’ll be 33 in the winter and I ain’t got time to waste. That’s what I’m talking about. … When I feel like physically and mentally, me personally, can’t compete for a championship no more or I feel like I can’t do it, then I won’t have this problem. But until that happens, and it don’t seem like no time soon…
“No disrespect to DeAndre (Liggins) and to Kay (Felder), you think we can rely on them to help us win a playoff game right now? And it’s no disrespect to them. But it’s like, it’s not fair to them.
“It’s tough for Coach because we’re in the process of trying to win a f—— championship. It would’ve been unfair to Delly to ask him his rookie year to play on a championship-level team. So that’s why you got guys in front of him that allows him to (grow). We telling Kay to be a backup point guard to a f—— superstar right now, instead of being a backup point guard to a guy that’s proven in the league. You know what I’m saying?
“I ain’t got no problems with the front office. I told (Griffin) to his face, so it ain’t like I’m telling y’all to put it on record. I see Griff all the time. One thing about me, if I got something to say, I’m going to tell it to your face. We need a f—— playmaker. I’m not saying you can just go find one, like you can go outside and see trees. I didn’t say that.
“For the most part, all championship contending teams have got guys that are ready to step in. Knock on wood, what if Ky goes down? For two weeks. Let’s say two. What if I went down for three weeks?
“It’s been a s—- 2017 so far.”
The problem, Cleveland being so top-heavy, is nothing new. Since James returned to the Land from South Beach, the success of the team has been placed on the shoulders of him, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. If any of them go down for an extended period, their championship aspirations crumble fast — just look at the 2015 Finals.
James put on a Herculean effort, but the Cavaliers couldn’t match up with that Golden State Warriors team, and the Dubs have only gotten better since then. If the trilogy between Golden State and Cleveland happens, losing any one of the Big Three would bring us back to 2007 when the San Antonio Spurs pieced apart LeBron and the Cavs in four
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Getting Kyle Korver for ten cents on the dollar was a solid move but, yet again, he’s a complementary player; if James or Irving aren’t on the floor, Korver is rendered useless.
It’s bizarre to see a long-winded outburst like this from James. Losing sucks, and the Cavaliers’ sub-.500 record to start the new year only adds to it. What’s more puzzling is how Tyronn Lue isn’t monitoring LeBron’s minutes like he once was. At the beginning of the season, Lue was adamant about lightening LeBron workload, but that’s appeared to have gone out the window.
There have been 10 instances where James has played more than 40 minutes, including the last two games. He had eight last season. Over the last five, LeBron’s been on the court for 205 out of a possible 240 minutes, and he’s now the league-leader in minutes per game with 37.5. It’s entirely possible that James is fed up with having to do everything for his team to win, and it’s something that’s been a recurring theme since he came into the league.
Another theory is that he really wants to beat Golden State in the Finals again, and he knows he’ll have to repeat last year’s performance to take down four All-NBA players. Unfortunately, that might not be enough.
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