Opportunity has been banging on Cavaliers' door -- will they answer?
JUN 23, 2014 2:10p ET
CLEVELAND -- Opportunities don't come along like this every day. Or every year. Or three times in every four years.
That's how many times the Cleveland Cavaliers have landed the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft. Three times. Four years. It is fair to say that particular fact is ridiculous.
Oh, by the way, the Cavs have also owned the No. 4 overall pick twice in the previous four years.
But let's stick with No. 1 because that's what matters yet again. And this time, more than just the top pick is at play.
New general manager David Griffin just hired a new coach in David Blatt, who, after three decades overseas, isn't just new to the Cavs. Blatt is new to the NBA.
Griffin also has some potential trades to contemplate, a few that may or may not involve that No. 1 pick.
And the Cavs can also sign some guy named LeBron James. He played for them once, not long ago. He can opt out of his contract with the Miami Heat on June 30. Such a maneuver would make James an unrestricted free agent, and you know the story from there. He would be free to sign with any team -- including the one with which his career began, the one that plays just up the road from his hometown of Akron.
Griffin and the Cavs believe they have a shot at LeBron, and will try to sell him on the idea that, with Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and others (including whomever is drafted at No. 1), the Cavs have become a good group for James to lead.
But it all has to start Thursday, at the top of the draft.
Assuming the Cavs keep the pick, they need to determine whether Duke forward Jabari Parker or Kansas swingman Andrew Wiggins is their guy. And whatever they determine, let's be honest -- they'd better not blow it. More accurately, they can't afford to blow it.
Last year's No. 1 overall selection, Anthony Bennett has contributed nothing. Part of that can be blamed on injuries, part of it can be blamed on former coach Mike Brown's tradition of running an offense that can make players look bad. But the bottom line is that Bennett didn't produce and that the Cavs missed the playoffs yet again.
At some point, that has to change. At some point, the Cavs have to move from a losing culture to the team on the rise everyone expected them to be. They have to start something real, something promising, and they have to start now.
They have to start this summer, with their new GM, new coach and new No. 1 overall pick.
Back to LeBron?
No one can accurately predict what James will do. Had the Heat won another title, it would've been a no-brainer for him to stay in Miami, where he has spend the past four seasons. James and high-profile contemporaries Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh would simply opt in for another year of their current deals.
But when you stand at center stage and declare that six or seven championships are on the way -- then win two in four years -- it may be time to re-think your career path.
Returning to the Heat is certainly a viable option. While their aging, overpriced roster isn't overly appealing, it has worked. Four straight Finals appearances are indeed quite honorable.
That's the Heat's only hope, it seems. They've been there and done that.
At the same time, other opportunities surely will be there for James. The Houston Rockets would gladly clear some cap space. The Los Angeles Clippers feel the same.
But the Cavs, of course, already have it. And put LeBron on any team and that team becomes a title contender. LeBron knows that, and likely believes it's true of even Cleveland.
The Cavs are also likely hoping he is asking himself where he wants to be in four years: With young guns such as Irving or over-the-hill gangs such as just about every other suitor?
Of course, it can safely be said the Cavs aren't going all in on LeBron. They hired a no-name coach (at least in the U.S.) without running it by James first. They're building the team, and forming the plan, with him in the back of their minds -- as opposed to, again, making him the center of everything.
It is a realistic approach, a wise approach.
Along with James, of course, Irving can be offered, and sign, a max contract extension in July. So yeah, this summer is huge in more ways than one.
And for the Cavs or anyone else, opportunities don't come along like this every day. Or every decade. And the start of it all is Thursday night, when it'll be hard to make a mistake at the top of a loaded draft.