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The Cavaliers’ 2017-18 NBA season is in a tailspin. For whatever reason, Cleveland just can’t string together a series of wins and get themselves back on track right now. But have things gotten so bad that LeBron James would waive his no-trade clause and voluntarily allow the team to send him packing prior to the NBA trade deadline on Thursday?
Believe it or not, that was actually a source of speculation on Tuesday, as Yahoo! Sports reporter Shams Charania reported there were some NBA teams doing their "due diligence" and watching to see if LeBron would potentially waive the no-trade clause he has in his contract. There are more than a few teams who would obviously be willing to mortgage their franchise’s future for a chance to land LeBron in a deal. And even though Charania reported LeBron was unlikely to let the Cavaliers trade him, it didn’t stop some people from gossiping about what might happen if LeBron did away with his no-trade clause.
The gossiping got a little bit louder on Tuesday night after the Cavaliers went out and blew a 21-point lead to the Magic to lose 116-98. The Magic have the worst record in the Eastern Conference, so the loss was particularly stunning for the skidding Cavaliers. But despite his team’s struggles, LeBron faced the latest report about his no-trade clause head-on and said he is not planning on going anywhere before the trade deadline. He insisted he will remain a Cavalier for at least the remainder of this season.
"I’m here for the long haul," LeBron said. "I’m here for this season right now, [to] try to 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. 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."
LeBron was clearly trying to keep his spirits up following another tough loss, but some of his teammates were having trouble doing the same. One Cavaliers player told ESPN.com the team hit "a new low" during their game against the Magic. Isaiah Thomas, meanwhile, tried to explain the Cavaliers’ troubles by suggesting they’re not demonstrating the brotherhood LeBron talked about while speaking with reporters.
"Right now, when we hit adversity, we go our separate ways," Thomas said. "And that’s just how I feel, and it looks like that as well. Guys start to go one-on-one on offense, and the defense is every man for himself. The first half we played good, everybody was happy. It was energized, helping each other on the defensive end. Sharing the ball. The ball was moving side to side on offense. And then we revert back to what makes us lose games."
The somewhat amazing thing about all of this is that, despite the Cavaliers’ inability to win many ballgames at the top of 2018, Cleveland is still sitting in third in the Eastern Conference. So they’re just one hot streak away from putting themselves right back into prime position in the East. But the fact that we’ve reached the point where the idea of LeBron waiving his no-trade clause doesn’t sound that crazy should tell you everything you need to know about where the Cavaliers are at the moment. They need to figure out a way to turn things around quickly—or LeBron’s days in Cleveland could really be numbered.