In an extensive report published Tuesday, Jason Lloyd of The Athletic detailed the "widening" gap between James and the Cavaliers. James could become a free agent this offseason since he has a player option for the 2018-19 season in his contract, per Spotrac.com.
In the report, Lloyd noted James has "no relationship" with owner Dan Gilbert or general manager Koby Altman. Lloyd wrote the "root of the problems can be traced back to two key issues: David Griffin's removal as general manager and Kyrie Irving's subsequent trade to the Boston Celtics."
James wanted Griffin—who consulted with his star player whenever there were major roster moves to be made—to stay and told the front office not to trade Irving with the hope he could iron out their relationship during camp, per Lloyd.
Griffin is no longer with the team, however, and Irving is playing for the Celtics, who have the best record in the Eastern Conference.
According to Lloyd, "the Cavs have been noticeably pivoting away from James' recommendations" and didn't sign Jamal Crawford over the summer or listen to James about Griffin and Irving. There is reportedly no longer trust between player and front office, and Lloyd noted James yelled and cursed at team executives during a meeting.
This could set the stage for another departure from Cleveland by James, just like when he left to join the Miami Heat in 2010. At the time, Gilbert wrote a searing letter criticizing James for leaving and suggesting he was a coward.
James told GQ's Mark Anthony Green in September he believed there were racial overtones to the letter.
The on-court product in Cleveland hasn't eased the stress, either, as the three-time defending Eastern Conference champions are 6-12 in their last 18 games.
Kevin Love is out with a broken hand, and Isaiah Thomas—part of the return package in the Irving trade—is scoring just 15.2 points per game this season after netting 28.9 last season.
The team is an abysmal 28th in the league in defensive rating, allowing 109.4 points per 100 possessions, per NBA.com, and looks nothing like a group that could get key stops against the Celtics or Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference playoffs, let alone a third straight Finals rematch with the mighty Golden State Warriors.
If things don't change, the Cavaliers will finish the season without a championship and may also watch James sign elsewhere during the offseason.