After LeBron James said Tristan Thompson should spend the rest of his career with the Cavaliers, there was talk LeBron would wait to re-sign until Cleveland locked up Thompson. LeBron and Thompson share an agent, Rich Paul, who once said LeBron considers the agency and its clients to be family.
The Cavs apparently didn’t think there was one to begin with.
I’m told that, privately, the Cavaliers are convinced that LeBron cannot afford to break Cleveland’s hearts a second time and leave and therefore does not have the leverage that everybody supposes he has.
If this is what the Cavaliers believe, I think they’re right. The way LeBron framed his return to Cleveland – professing his commitment to Northeast Ohio – it’d look awful for him to leave.
But I don’t know they’re right, and neither can they. Nobody can read LeBron’s mind. If he has told them he’s OK with their handling of Thompson, that’s a strong indicator. It still doesn’t mean they know his true feelings, though.
Remember, LeBron left the Heat, at least in part, because he was dissatisfied with their spending. Dan Gilbert has paid plenty this offseason, but we don’t know LeBron’s exact standards.
LeBron has repeatedly and publicly said he wants Cleveland to re-sign Thompson. He has dialed down his rhetoric from when he pushed for Thompson to be a Cav for life, but the message is clear. LeBron believes the Cavaliers should get this done.
And if they don’t? Yes, it’s too late for LeBron to leave this summer. But he’ll probably be a free agent next year and the year after. I doubt LeBron would bolt just because Thompson takes the qualifying offer, but it’s one decision that could eventually contribute to his departure.
Again, I think LeBron will stay with the Cavaliers for precisely the same reasons they reportedly believe he’ll stay. But do they really want to find out whether they’re correct?
The downside of pushing his limits is extreme.