This question originally appeared on Quora: Did LeBron James make the right call in returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers?
Answer by Christopher Patrick, Played Power Forward in 7th Grade
Yes. Super Teams, like the Heat were, have an expiration date due to the high contracts of the core players and the number of miles on your ring-chasing veteran filler. It is tough to build a super team through free agency and have it last over multiple free agencies. I can't think of an example of where this has worked over a decade.
I think LeBron James recognized that if he stayed with the Heat, every couple years, they would have to reload their roster with new star free agents or find new vets who are looking to chase rings at the minimum - so there was an impermanence to the roster that LeBron would always be playing with. I think LeBron is looking at the next 8 to 10 years and thinking that he wants to be on a team that is built to last.
It's fortunate that Cavs are his original team and in his home state. The Cavs also have a ton of young talent (and assets) that can (hopefully) shoulder more of the burden that LeBron carries as his abilities wane over the next decade.
Whether or not you think Wiggins is the next great player, he'll be able to shoulder some of the perimeter defense duties that LeBron would otherwise carry on any other roster on day one. For the next decade, LeBron is no longer expected to guard the best perimeter player over the course of a decade. On one front, this allows LeBron the benefit to explore and maximize his abilities in other parts of the game, but it also lets him save some miles for future seasons and playoffs.
LeBron has also never played on a team with a better point guard (except for on Team USA) and I think having Kyrie Irving allows LeBron to not have to be the primary play maker on offense on every single play for 10+ years. It will be interesting to see LeBron - a play making genius - play off the ball more regularly. The most interesting basketball narrative, to me, will be to see what LeBron looks like in an offense where he doesn't HAVE to have the ball in his hands all the time for the offense to make plays.
There are definitely some open-questions with Cleveland: Can they find somebody to protect the rim other than LeBron? Does it make sense to sign another max-level free agent? If so, how can you do so without sacrificing long-term assets? How will LeBron fare in a Princeton-style offense? Will LeBron exhibit patience as these young stars develop? And will LeBron be able to help Wiggins and Waiters and Bennett grow into being great players in their own right, or will they always be third fiddle to LeBron and his own shadow?
When you build a franchise through free agency, your roster constantly has to be re-tooled as players either lose their ability, retire or have inefficient contracts that have to be renegotiated because of the salary cap. From LeBron's perspective, it becomes very difficult to see through the fog of the next decade at what the Heat's roster might be. Are they constantly chasing the next en vogue max-contract star in free agency? How will their game complement LeBron's? Who is going to shoulder some of LeBron's responsibilities s as his abilities fade?
Although still in his prime, I think LeBron wants to be on a team where he isn't expected to be the focal point of every single aspect of the game every single night for the next decade. Eventually, LBJ's John Galt-like motor will begin to sputter and I think the assets on the Cavs will allow it to run longer than it might otherwise if he were to go to a franchise that regularly has to retool their roster exclusively through free agency.
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