Editors note: story updated on 2/6/2018 at 10:08 p.m.
CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – LeBron James will finish the season with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
But that’s as far as his commitment goes.
As preposterous as trading the 14-time All-Star, 4-time NBA MVP and 3-time NBA champion seems, the issue has arisen in advance of Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET NBA trade deadline as speculation surrounding James’ future continues to burn like a 4-alarm fire.
James has a no trade clause built into his contract meaning for the Cavs to deal him, he’d have to waive it, which he has no intention of doing.
“I’m here for the long haul,” James said after the Cavs blew a 21-point lead in Orlando and lost to the Magic by 18. “I’m here for this season right now to try and figure out ways we can still compete. I couldn’t give up on my teammates like that. I couldn’t do that. I just couldn’t do it.
“We put too much into the game every single day. We go out and prepare even though win, lose or draw – at the end of the day we’re all brothers and we understand that. I owe it to my teammates to finish this season out no matter how it ends up.
“I would never waive my no-trade clause.”
James’ post game comments come in the wake of a report from Yahoo Sports’ Shams Charania, who reported Tuesday that teams had been doing their due diligence investigating the clause and James’ potential willingness to waive it in light of the Cavs’ struggles the last 8 weeks.
Since Dec. 19, the Cavs are 7-14, including a pair of losses to the Warriors and blowout losses courtesy of the Celtics, Raptors, Spurs and Rockets. Eight of the 14 defeats have been by 12 or more points.
The Cavs’ issues are many.
Forward Kevin Love is out 2 months with a broken hand, Isaiah Thomas continues to struggle as he recovers from a hip injury that kept him out for the first 3 months of the season, there is discord within the locker room and the team continues to appear disengaged regularly.
James and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert remain non communicative according to reports and there is mistrust on both sides – Gilbert in James’ long-term commitment to the team because he can be a free agent this summer and from James’ point of view, Gilbert’s willingness to do everything and anything to compete for and win a championship this year.
While the Cavs would love to dump the contracts of Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith and even Tristan Thompson, they lack enough assets to bring a significant piece back in return by doing so.
General manager Koby Altman has either Brooklyn’s first-round pick, acquired in the Kyrie Irving trade, as well as Cleveland’s first-rounder to work with. Because of the volume of first-rounders the team has dealt away in recent years, league rules prohibit the team from trading both picks this year.
Regardless of the challenges facing the franchise, James is set on playing the season out in Cleveland according to Charania.
Since returning the Cleveland in 2014, James has signed 3 short-term contracts with the Cavs.
James opted out following the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons before re-signing in an effort to maximize his income under the league’s collective bargaining agreement. His most recent deal has an opt-out after the season, which he is expected to exercise granting him free agency again.
While he was committed to return the first 2 times he opted out, this time the state of the Cavs will weigh heavily in his decision to re-sign again or go finish his career elsewhere.
It should be noted that although James chose to play in Miami in 2010, the Cavs traded him to the Heat via a sign-and-trade agreement. Should James opt to leave the Cavs a second time it is highly likely he will use another sign-and-trade deal to facilitate it.