Some Cleveland fans on Twitter are a little uneasy right now. Cleveland fans are ... often uneasy, but today has been particularly hysterical:
If you, like me, saw stuff like that and wondered what the hell it was all about, here's what's up. What follows is a list of probably-inconsequential items that -- in constellation and combined with the fact that the last time there was smoke it portended fire -- might alarm an attuned Clevelander.
LeBron went to Miami and trained with Dwyane Wade
The Cavs had some extra days off, so LeBron visited his old buddy in his old home:
And he's got no interest in discussing that:
LeBron was also in no mood to entertain any controversy about his trip to Miami: "I don't care," he said— Joe Vardon (@joevardon) March 3, 2016
The simplest explanation is that LeBron keeps up with his old friends, and Miami has much nicer weather than Cleveland right now, so why not pay a visit and get some reps in while you're there?
The paranoid explanation is LEBRON HATES HIS TEAMMATES HE MISSES THE HEAT HE WANTS TO LEAVE CLEVELAND AGAIN LOOK
LeBron sent some cryptic tweets
It's ok to know you've made a mistake. Cause we all do at times. Just be ready to live with whatever that comes with it and be with.....— LeBron James (@KingJames) March 1, 2016
those who will protect you at all cost!— LeBron James (@KingJames) March 1, 2016
Can't replace being around great friends that reciprocate the same energy back to you in all facets of life— LeBron James (@KingJames) March 3, 2016
And he doesn't want to talk about those either:
LeBron's response when asked about his tweets from Tuesday: pic.twitter.com/xFOiFmLvsU— T.J. Zuppe (@TJZuppe) March 3, 2016
The simplest explanation is: I dunno, whatever. Tweets.
The paranoid explanation: Who is he talking to in the first two tweets? It could be anybody! What about the third tweet? Is that about Wade!? Last time LeBron got called out for strange tweets, he admitted they meant something! This feels like deciphering classmates' away messages on AIM in 2002. WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN!?
The Cavs feel they lack an "enforcer," and are weirdly upset they no longer employ Kendrick Perkins
From Cleveland.com's Chris Haynes, here's LeBron:
"As far as an enforcer, we don't possess that this year," James said. "Losing Perk was a big piece of our success last year, even with his limited minutes. But what he meant to our team both in the locker room and when he got his opportunity was huge."
And Kyrie Irving:
"[An enforcer], it's vital. It's vital. Having an enforcer like that, [someone] that has championship experience," Irving said. "I don't think we just necessarily want an enforcer, but enforcers are always on championship teams. They have that one guy that we put into the game. That Boston series, it changed drastically just because of Perk going in."
And even coach Tyronn Lue:
"When teams got out of sorts and (Boston) was talking stuff to the bench or taking stuff to our players, just having a guy you know you can lean on that guys respect as being tough in this league," Lue said Thursday when asked about Perkins. "It all started last year with the Boston series."
This is just fascinating and I don't know what to make of it. Kendrick Perkins was arguably the worst player on the Cavs last season, and hardly played. He was, however, willing to snarl at people and throw some elbows when called upon ... and apparently the Cavs really miss that presence despite how bad Perk was at basketball.
The simplest explanation is uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh I guess Perk is a really good friend? Can the Cavs just gently ask the Pelicans to release him then sign him for the rest of the year (but not the playoff run because that wouldn't be allowed)?
The paranoid explanation is THIS TEAM IS A FRAGILE FLOWER AND KENDRICK PERKINS WAS SOMEHOW THE PEDUNCLE HOLDING THE WHOLE THING TOGETHER THEY ARE NOTHING WITHOUT HIM AAAAAHHHHH WHO WILL BE THE NEW PERKINS? WHO CAN POSSIBLY PLAY THE ROLE OF ENFORCER THAT WELL? DEFINITELY NOT CHANNING FRYE
The rumors won't go away, and the team has had a bad stretch
There were rumors the Cavs tried to trade Kevin Love! There were more recent rumors saying Kyrie is unhappy in Cleveland! The Cavs, in general, leak like a sieve, so there are always rumors aplenty. Meanwhile, they've lost three of their last five and just don't look zesty at all on the floor. It's discomfiting when a team led by guys like LeBron and Kyrie doesn't look zesty. Those are usually such zesty players.
This is where the simplest explanation and the paranoid explanation might converge, because again ... the last time something was rumored for a while and things felt off, that thing eventually happened for real.
So, are Cavs fans (some of them, anyway) right to be freaked out? There are certainly a lot of little, dubious things floating around Cleveland right now. And LeBron has left town before, so I can understand why they're a bit tweaky. It's off-putting that a team this good can appear this troubled at all times. Cleveland's still 42-17, though. They're the third best team in the NBA right now. They're everyone's favorite to make the NBA Finals. Maybe these little nothings will amount to something, or maybe this is just late-season malaise destined to be washed away by another big playoff run.
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