Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Picking up the pieces

It’s the day after the baggy-pants farce that was LeBron James’ televised announcement that he’s leaving Cleveland for Miami. And Cleveland fans are left once gain to pick up the pieces of our broken hearts and move on.

Reaction has been swift and predictable, starting with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and his much publicized letter to Cavs fans.

As Cavs fans, we have to applaud Gilbert’s passion, although his message was a bit lost in a sea of all caps and the bizarre use of Comic Sans as his font of choice. But we’ll give him a pass on that because Gilbert probably lost more than anyone with James leaving. There’s no telling how much the franchise’s value – and Gilbert’s bottom line – will suffer without LBJ. Some projections put it at $200 million. So yeah, he’s upset.

So what’s next for the Cavs? The team could be as much as $9 million under the salary cap depending on how the proceed from here. That number will increase over the next two years as Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon, Delonte West, Sebastian Telfair and Antawn Jamison come off the books.

They don’t have to spend all that money right away of course, and that’s a good thing. While watching the debacle last night, one of the scariest things was the crawl across the screen listing the best remaining free agents and seeing Shaq listed as No. 2.

This is not a time for the team to react out of emotion. Remember, they only had James in the first place because they lucked out in the draft lottery. They now have the opportunity to act strategically in rebuilding this team.

This doesn’t have to happen overnight and – hopefully – it doesn’t have to involve intentionally blowing up the team in the hopes of signing the next big free agent.

It may not be pretty, it certainly will be hard, but it can be done with patience and clear thinking.

Of course, Miami is thrilled by all this. Good for them. They intentionally gutted their team, slashed payroll and made no attempt to win for the past two years in the hopes that today would come.

The only positive in this is that, despite what seemed like seven years of speculation and “guarantees,” James didn’t go to New York. And, predictably, New York thinks they have a right to feel wronged by this:

You’ll excuse us if we don’t take a moment to share in the “pain” of Knicks fans.

Finally the national media, who spent the last seven years telling us how James had to leave Cleveland, are now writing about how bad it is that he left:

Well, you get the point.

So the LeBron Era is officially over. The last seven years have been exciting and Cavs games were certainly must see, even if the team didn’t win a championship. No matter how we feel, we can’t deny that.

Cleveland fans have been through worse. We’ll get through this, eventually.

Don’t forget, Browns training camp starts in just three weeks.

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