Forecast: LeBron wins two Cavs titles

Originally Published: August 22, 2014
By Ethan Sherwood Strauss | ESPN.com

LeBron JamesChris Trotman/Getty ImagesKing James won two rings in Miami. Our panel predicts he'll win two more championships in Cleveland.

Is LeBron James expected to repeat what he's accomplished in Miami? According to our Forecast, Cleveland projects to mirror the Heat's Big Three era (see the table below). Well, not exactly "mirror." It's doubtful the Cavs sign Joel Anthony to start at center, and Erick Dampier probably doesn't have to hurry himself into his version of playing in shape.

Panelists predict the total Cavs title haul with LeBron at the helm will be two -- 2.02, to be exact -- despite not predicting Cleveland to win it all in its first season. (Sound like a familiar track for a LeBron team?)

James might have sought to lessen expectations by saying, "It'll be a long process, much longer than it was in 2010," in his announcement letter, but those expectations ignored his words and skied above LeBron's rhetorical chase-down block. The only "long process" people are associating with the Cavaliers is the slow-drip inevitability of trading this year's No. 1 pick, Andrew Wiggins.

Actually, there might be another "long process" on the minds of fans and writers. Poll voters are evidently confident James sticks around this time. If the prediction is for James to lose in 2015 but eventually win two titles, there must be an expectation that he's in Cleveland through at least the duration of his prime.

Officially, James is under contract for only two seasons in Cleveland and can opt out after the first year. He's also shown a history of being about as faithful as his options when the contract is done (insert "small sample size" caveat).

Despite that, people see longevity in this arrangement. It's hard to envision James finding many basketball situations superior to being flanked by young talents such as Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. And that's even before you factor in his connection to Ohio and the gravity of his espoused commitment to the region.

If he leaves again, he'll be pilloried for duping people into believing his return was about much more than wins and losses. For that reason and others, conventional wisdom doesn't foresee another Decision on the horizon.


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