Report: Chandler Parsons was ‘Cleveland’s guy’ if Cavaliers failed to land LeBron James

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Before last season began, the Cavaliers were aggressive in free agency, foregoing a more traditional strategy by signing free agents that the team believed would help them improve immediately, and certainly enough to make the playoffs in the watered-down Eastern Conference.

It’s just that none of those moves worked out.

Cleveland signed Earl Clark after he had his best season with the Lakers, and added Jarrett Jack after he was a key component on a playoff team in Golden State. And, perhaps most foolishly, the team took a chance on Andrew Bynum, which ended in about as messy a divorce as possible.

The point, here, is that the Cavaliers have proven that they would go out and add players in free agency, even if the decisions about specific players were questionable, at best. LeBron James and Kevin Love solved the organization’s problems in that area this summer, but had James chosen to remain in Miami, another curious roster move was reportedly on the horizon.

From Marc Stein of ESPN.com:

Yet the most serious early interest in Parsons in 2014 free agency actually came from Cleveland. It was widely assumed in Mavericks circles that Dallas would turn its attentions to Parsons once formally eliminated as an option by Melo and LeBron, but sources told ESPN.com that Parsons — before things really heated up with his eventual new employers — found himself being recruited by another All-Star peer he regards as a friend: Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving.

Sources say the Cavs, furthermore, would soon inform Parsons he was “Cleveland’s guy” if their ambitious bid to bring LeBron home unraveled.

This detail comes from a longer look at Parsons’ journey as an unrestricted free agent, which ended with the Rockets not matching the three-year offer sheet tendered by the Mavericks.

It’s unclear if Parsons would have considered the Cavaliers as a real option, because like so many NBA cities, Cleveland is undesirable to free agents anytime LeBron doesn’t happen to be firmly in place on the team’s roster. But would he, by himself, really have been enough to push the team to a higher level, and one capable of consistent postseason contention? And, would the salary the Cavaliers committed have prevented the team from making smarter upgrades that would have better-positioned them for long-term success?

Thankfully in Cleveland, these are difficult questions that now don’t need to be answered.