Posted: 12:41 pm Friday, July 11th, 2014

LeBron back to Cleveland, and that’s not a bad thing 

By Mark Bradley

Gone from South Beach in a puff of smoke. (AP photo)

Gone from South Beach in a puff of smoke. (AP photo)

LeBron James is taking his talents to …

How about we just retire that tired line here and now? How about we just say, “LeBron James is headed back to Cleveland to play for the Cavaliers?” Is that good enough?

I’ll be honest: I never thought he’d leave Miami — a good organization based in Florida, which has nice weather and no state income tax — but the Cavaliers, of all teams, closed the sale. (LeBron announced his decision via an essay on SI.com, which beats the heck of “The Decision,” that overblown hour of ego-gratification that aired on ESPN in 2010.) This is good for LeBron, good for the NBA, great for Cleveland and not bad for the Atlanta Hawks.

The Miami Heat will not win the NBA Southeast Division next season. The new favorites will be the Washington Wizards or the Hawks. Generally speaking, your division is easier to win if the world’s best player isn’t in it.

More to come on myajc.com.

40 comments
MireyaRCrane
MireyaRCrane

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TreeRollins
TreeRollins

I'm glad our team's not involved with all this drama!

I was really worried Bazemore was going to ditch us for another team. We need his 6 ppg!

JaySly
JaySly

Atl should have broke open bank vault and gone after melo-- for enough money and benefits they could have signed him! Now they stuck with a bunch of role players

Peachs
Peachs

N.B.A. basketball is the cowboy movies of the 20th century with all black hats. Their commission is Mr. Nimoy, they have owners calling their wives cows, for public consumption, they are a PR nightmare marketed to the lowest denominator.I think the Hawks might be a breath of fresh air if given the chance.I always feel a mafia influence on that league; things turn out for the marketing and maybe the gambling appetite, good and bad, not much organic and at the end of very long seasons you have hundred of meaningless games to reach a finals already decided months or years earlier.

tyger
tyger

Sefalosha, Bazemore, Oh My!...


Better rush get tickets b4 sell out!

MikeS777
MikeS777

Bottom line, I expect this could usher in another run of West finals dominance like what we saw from the time Jordan left to when the Heat and Celtics came on in the 06-08 time frame.  The Lakers and Spurs were just destroying the East in the Finals during that stretch, with the lone exception being a Detroit Pistons finals upset.  The Heat and Celtics finally gave the East some real Finals contenders again.  The Celtics are long gone, and this might end the Heat as well.  Remember, the Spurs dispatched Cleveland in the Finals in 07 in 4 very uncompetitive games.

MikeS777
MikeS777

At first I agreed with you, Mark, but now I'm not so sure.  Cleveland was always a bit of a feel good story with Lebron, but they were never able to put the pieces around him which caused more frustration than anything else.  He never had even close to the coaching or players that he got in Miami.  Even so, Cleveland had somehow managed to cap themselves out to the point it was impossible to bring in any real help for Lebron.  That's why he left in the first place.

I think he wants to finish his career in Cleveland, and maybe he has a different perspective.  Is this good for Lebron?  Yes.  Is it good for the league?  I'm not so sure.  The Miami Heat are the only legitimate Finals contenders in the East that can take on whoever comes out of the West.  I was actually looking forward to seeing the Spurs and Heat match up again in the finals.  For the first time since the 80's we had the making of a real extended Finals rivalry between two franchises.  No matter what Lebron felt of his chances in the finals, the Heat were still going to be the best team in the East.

In order for Cleveland to truly get to that level, they need to make a trade for Kevin Love.  Lebron and Irving alone are not going to do it.  They really don't have a lot of the pieces needed.  Mike Miller is rumored to be incoming as well.  With Miller and Love, they have a shot to come out of the East.  Without them, I don't see this team beating Indiana in a series, especially if Hibbert reasserts himself.  They will make the playoffs in the East for sure, but I don't see them as better off yet than when Lebron left before.  They have money and flexibility now that they didn't have before, so lets hope they use it well.

Meanwhile, Miami now has the money to sign a lot of players to put around Bosh and Wade, or maybe wait for another prize free agent.  Wade will be able to show us if he has what it takes to still take a team over.  Miami had sort of devolved this last year into Lebron and everyone else.  The fact is, they had a lot of talent around him, so it will be interesting to see what happens now that they have to step up.  My gut feeling is Miami will actually be a better team than Cleveland next year and will still be one of the top teams in the East.

zekeI
zekeI

No one cares unless they are the ignorant morons that actually consider the thug promoting nba as basketball!!!

devounknown1000
devounknown1000

DF NEED TO GET A CENTER


Andray Blatche make the perfect sense, also you could sign him for 2years for about 10mill.


TEAGUE, CARROL, MILLSAP, HORFORD, BLATCHE


Would be a good solid defense team with size in the paint.


MACK, KORVER, THADO, SCOTT, PAYNE


Would be a good solid bench specially with Korver giving you that energy scoring punch of the bench.


GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

JaySly
JaySly

If some low rent city like Cleveland can get a superstar like Lebron why can't atl get anybody good? I'm tired of these mediocre hawks teams

kreedham
kreedham

Hawks have a legitimate chance in the east.  Rem1mber they were a close third before Al got hurt.  The new guy from Toronto, Al back, and I like the 1st round choice off the bench.  Miami, regardless of who they sign won't be as good, Cleveland will obviously be better but right now, not enough better. Do they have enough to win it all?  Not likely, but next season should be a lot more enjoyable.


JediMaster
JediMaster

Just two weeks ago Bradley was writing about how Lebron could possibly come to Atlanta.


Codex
Codex

great, now I can't get on the internet or watch ESPN for the next week w/o seeing or hearing this crap about LeBron. bunch of drones. oh and the Hawks will still stink next year. NBA is dead in ATL!!

tyger
tyger

Don't count on it...


Miami - NBA destination city...

$40M cash, sand, surf, t&a...

They just reload...


Blow up the Hawks...

Passivity is slow death...

$12M for Thabo Sefalosha???

Are you kidding me???


Go BIG for Go Home!

Runner508
Runner508

The Hawks will always be a middle-of-the-road team. Insinuating that Lebron's decision is going to catapult us from perpetual 41 win seasons to anything better is silly.

syrupmaker
syrupmaker

Instead of writing stories about another teams fortune, the ajc (you included) needs to start using its voice to hold this ownership groups feet to the fire. Start asking tough questions on why they haven't tried hard enough to bring a real star to this town. Atlanta is a basketball city.

ATLBrown
ATLBrown

Sure, winning the division will be easier, but that won't get you anywhere come playoff time.  It's not better or worse for the Hawks, it just means the road to the Finals in East Conference goes through Cleveland now instead of Miami.

devounknown1000
devounknown1000

Cavs will win a title next year mark my word.


GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!

seminoleking
seminoleking

meanwhile............we sign stefawhoisthislosa from the thunder as our off season free agent acquisition.....lol

Badberry
Badberry

The Hawks need to sign one more mid level player to make them a true contender.


PaulinNH
PaulinNH

LeBron's announcement also means that Chris Bosh will be getting paid what he is worth - $88M over 4 years.  Only question is - who is going to pay it?

BSNBC
BSNBC

Who really cares?  

BigTimeTECHFan
BigTimeTECHFan

"The Miami Heat will not win the NBA Southeast Division next season"


I think Miami has a lot of cap space now, They could resign Wade, Bosh, then pickup a player, say Kevin Love. 

Don't count out Pat Riley, he can bring in players.


"our division is easier to win if the world’s best player isn’t in it"

Kevin Durrant was never in the division to begin with?

jeffreyd
jeffreyd

Well said, thanks Mark.


I don't have a problem rooting for LeBron anymore. Heck, I would've been fine with him in Miami if he didn't think he warranted a TV special to announce it and say "F-you" to Cleveland.

JSSN
JSSN

I don't care what you think of LeBron James as a basketball player. But as a person, his letter to the Cavs fans and Cleveland in general was as mature of a statement by a professional athlete in a long, long, long time  (by whomever who may have crafted it)! Mickey Mantle's mea culpa is the only thing in the vicinity, and that was way after the fact.

He's not giving them false hope, it is on them as players to produce. Thomas Wolfe said: "You can't go home again," well we're about to find out if it's true!

JackClemens
JackClemens

His SI piece was good. And I'm going back to first!

devounknown1000
devounknown1000

@JaySly  I DON'T UNDERSTAND IT ALSO.



Why no Superstars ever talking about coming to play in the ATL, this make no sense at all with this being a top 5 greatest city in America to live in plus a good place to raise your family it hard to understand what the problem, SMH


DF keep signing these AVG PLAYERS will not cut it unless he get a Superstar in ATL.


GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wilbo
Wilbo

@JediMaster Bradley writes quite a bunch of ridiculous homer nonsense.

Calel
Calel

In Bradley's defense, he didn't say this would make the Hawks better. He said they could win the division. And may not take much in that crappy division.

JackClemens
JackClemens

Hawks raising a divisional banner next year. Surely Bosh is heading to Houston now.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Calel

Yeah, kinda like the Braves in their crappy division--only it looks at this point that it will take a whole lot more than "much" for ATL to win either one of them.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@AnsweredTHIS @PaulinNH Yep.   Houston should be a tough out next year in a brutal Western Conference.   Between them, San Antonio, Portland, Golden State, Oklahoma City, and the Clippers, the playoffs should be awesome.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@GeorgeStein 

It's strange seeing a list of tough teams in the Wester Conference and the team on the list from LA is the Clippers and not the Lakers.