The Cavs have dropped five of their last seven, and their king is heated. You might be too, if you were the linchpin of a defending champion, suddenly forced to log 44 minutes in mid-January just to lose to the Pelicans sans Anthony Davis. That’s a bleak scenario for the game’s best player.
“It’s like when you don’t have bodies. It’s tough,” LeBron James told reporters after last night’s loss. “The fucking grind of the regular season. We’re a top-heavy team. We have a top-heavy team. We top-heavy as shit.”
This afternoon, James added to his remarks from last night, clarifying that he did not intend to place blame on the front office:
It’s diplomatic, but the follow-up sneaks in a little passive-aggression:
The roster is even shallower, in James’s view, than last year’s. But it’s not exactly clear what can be done about that, when the salary cap-exceeding Cavs must pay James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love, while suffering injury misfortune with roster staples (J.R. Smith’s thumb might be hurt for months) and role players (Birdman’s career might be over) alike.
What’s clear is that James has been agitating for a player who could lessen the ball-handling burden on him and Kyrie Irving, who shoulder usage rates of 29.5 and 28.9 percent, respectively. “We need a fucking playmaker,” James said. “I’m not saying you can just go find one, like you can go outside and see trees. I didn’t say that.” Neither of the backup point guards, Kaye Felder and DeAndre Liggins, seem capable of filling that role on a contender.
But again, where is this playmaker going to come from? The Cavs don’t have much to offer in draft picks, so swinging a deal for an impact player at the deadline seems like a long shot. Maybe the Bulls would offload Rajon Rondo (lol) for cheap? What’s Mario Chalmers up to?
It has to be frustrating for LeBron to see the super-team he beat in the Finals reload with the likes of Kevin Durant while his own squad has only managed to bring in Kyle Korver, but such is life in a league governed by a punitive salary cap. If James is going to beat the Warriors again, he’s going to have to do it without much in the way of reinforcements.