2011 NBA Draft: Why Losing LeBron James May Work out for Cleveland

Tom LoughreyAnalyst IIIMay 17, 2011

2011 NBA Draft: Why Losing LeBron James May Work out for Cleveland

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    CHICAGO, IL - MAY 15:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat looks on against the Chicago Bulls in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 15, 2011 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly a
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    The Cleveland Cavaliers just landed the No. 1 and No. 4 picks in the 2011 NBA Draft. If LeBron James re-signed with the Cavs at the end of last season, that wouldn't have happened.

    Some may think this resembles a consolation prize, but that's a very skin-deep evaluation. In terms or ranking any one player—especially a prospect—against LeBron James, no one compares. LeBron is simply too good to put any active player against him in terms of value.

    However, when LeBron left, he sent Cleveland into an absolute tailspin. Shots back and forth between the Cavaliers and LeBron ensued, but nothing hurt more than the 42-point loss that Cleveland suffered.

    Maybe Cleveland was a little harsh on their virtual ex-communication of LeBron, but it doesn't matter right now.

    Here's five reasons why the Cavaliers can see the silver lining in losing the former face of their franchise.

High Draft Picks

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    NEW YORK - JUNE 24:  NBA Commisioner David Stern speaks at the NBA Draft at Madison Square Garden on June 24, 2010 in New York, New York.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    There's no way the Cavaliers would have the first or fourth pick if they had retained LeBron—unless they made a blockbuster trade.

    The likelihood of the Cavs making a run for a big player with LeBron on the roster is low because of the money LeBron demands. The Cavs would have made the playoffs and probably been pretty far away from the lottery.

    High draft picks are the easiest way to add high quality players in the NBA. With LeBron on your roster, you're not going to get a lottery pick.

Easier to Add Big Names

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    BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 25:  Antawn Jamison #4 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives to the basket as  Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics defends on January 25, 2011 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and a
    Elsa/Getty Images

    While LeBron was a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, he was always begging management to bring in more help.

    The best the Cavaliers were able to do was Larry Hughes and then Antawn Jamison. LeBron was not impressed with the Cavaliers efforts, and he decided to go find talent on his own. Cleveland was never able to land the player that LeBron wanted, and they paid for it.

    No player wanted to turn down stardom to go play second fiddle to LeBron. The reason the duo of LeBron and Dwyane Wade works is because no one is sure who is the No. 1 in Miami. Wade has the hometown fans, but LeBron has the all-around game.

    Now that LeBron found his new team, big players may see the appeal in Cleveland.

Money

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    CHICAGO, IL - MAY 15:  (L-R) Chris Bosh #1, Mike Bibby #0 and LeBron James #23 of the Miami Heat look on dejected from the bench late in the fourth quarter in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 15, 2011 at the Un
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    If LeBron were to stay with Cleveland, he would have probably signed the largest contract in NBA history. LeBron wasn't going to stay in Cleveland for less than $15 million, which is what he makes now in Miami.

    For the first time in a long time, the Cleveland Cavaliers have a lot of money saved up. They can act like a kid in a candy story knowing that they don't owe absurd amounts of money to just one player.

    The Cavaliers haven't really had a lot of success in free agency lately, but this year could be different.

Drive to Succeed

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    CLEVELAND - FEBRUARY 25:  Daniel Gibson #1 of the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrates after scoring a three point shot during the game against the New York Knicks on February 25, 2011 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly ackn
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    When LeBron moved south, the entire Cavaliers organization was distraught.

    The Cavaliers realized they had something to prove. They wanted to show people that they can win without their former star. Unfortunately for Cleveland, a 26-game losing streak was the most publicized part of the Cavaliers season.

    Now that they've tasted tons of defeat, the Cavs are ready to win. People tend to forget that playing basketball is each athlete's job and winning is the most important thing to almost all of them. Players take pride in being shown on SportsCenter for the right reasons.

    Watching Derek Anderson flip out on the media for accusing him of phoning it in was a good indicator of how important winning is to professional athletes.

    Let's see if the Cavaliers are inspired to prove that there's a reason they weren't called LeBron and Co.

New Rival

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    CLEVELAND - MARCH 29: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat performs his pre-game chalk throw ritual before the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on March 29, 2011 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agr
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    After LeBron decided to relocate to Miami, Gilbert released an open letter to Cavaliers fans. The most famous line of the letter reads as follows:

    "I want to make one statement to you tonight: 'I personally guarantee that the Cleveland Cavaliers will win an NBA Championship before the self-titled former 'king' wins one.'"

    Well, the Cavaliers are currently sitting home watching the NBA playoffs after a 19-win season, one of the worst in franchise history. LeBron is playing in the Eastern Conference Finals, coming off a 4-1 series win over the Boston Celtics.

    It's safe to say that Gilbert was a little out of line to say what he did. He may have believed that he could inspire the team to outperform expectations, but talent prevailed in this affair.

    All of this is quickly turning into quite the rivalry. It was said that Game 1 of the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls series was the most watched basketball game in cable television history. The city with the third most viewers was none other than Cleveland.

    If the Miami Heat were to meet up with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs, the hype would be incredible.


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