Cavaliers Rumors: If LeBron James Leaves, Plan Isn't to 'Blow Up the Team'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 18, 2018

CLEVELAND, CA - JUN 8:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers handles the ball against Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors in Game Four of the 2018 NBA Finals won 108-85 by the Golden State Warriors over the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Quicken Loans Arena on June 6, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images)
Chris Elise/Getty Images

LeBron James' future remains uncertain, but even if he leaves in free agency this summer, the Cleveland Cavaliers do not plan to "blow up the team," according to Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com.

Per that report, the Cavaliers wouldn't undergo "an extreme Philadelphia-style demolition job of aiming to lose lots of games and pile up draft picks" should James depart, though Pluto added that "even if James remains with the Cavs, they have to get somewhat younger."

If James does sign elsewhere, the Cavaliers will be left in a precarious position. As currently constructed, the team's core would be Kevin Love, George Hill, Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith, Jordan Clarkson, Kyle Korver, Cedi Osman, Larry Nance Jr. and whomever the team selects with the No. 8 overall pick.

Is that group good enough to compete for a playoff spot, even in the weaker Eastern Conference? Perhaps, though that's the makings of a No. 7 or 8 seed at best.

The team would have some money to add a free agent or two but without James would become a tougher sell. And they could add assets if James opts into his $35 million player option but seeks a trade, perhaps adding players like Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson, for instance, if James desires to join the Houston Rockets.

Even if the Cavaliers seek to split the difference, looking to get younger without completely tanking, they aren't exactly rife with fantastic trade chips. Hill ($19 million), Thompson ($17.4 million) and Smith ($14.7 million) are all solid veterans, but teams may be reluctant to take on those significant cap hits. 

The team's younger players like Nance, Clarkson, Osman and Rodney Hood—if the Cavaliers decide to retain him in restricted free agency—are solid role players or complementary pieces, but none are stars. Rather, they are the sort of young players you hope to surround a star with as you build a championship contender.

So the Cavaliers may have no plans to tank, but selling off their veterans and seeking to rebuild through the draft might actually be the faster path to contention for the team should James leave in free agency. Otherwise, the Cavaliers could find themselves in the NBA's "middle of the road" purgatory as they take the rocky path of trying to maintain a contender without a superstar to build around.

Related

    JR Finally Says Goodbye to LeBron 21 Days After Left

    Cleveland Cavaliers logo
    Cleveland Cavaliers

    JR Finally Says Goodbye to LeBron 21 Days After Left

    Yahoo
    via Yahoo

    Report: Harris Rejects $80M Extension from LAC

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Report: Harris Rejects $80M Extension from LAC

    Scott Polacek
    via Bleacher Report

    Report: Fultz's Jump Shot Has Been 'Rebuilt'

    NBA logo
    NBA

    Report: Fultz's Jump Shot Has Been 'Rebuilt'

    Kyle Newport
    via Bleacher Report

    Cavaliers Talked to Free Agents Nwaba, Babbitt and Booker

    Cleveland Cavaliers logo
    Cleveland Cavaliers

    Cavaliers Talked to Free Agents Nwaba, Babbitt and Booker

    Fear The Sword
    via Fear The Sword