Superstar LeBron James can become an unrestricted free agent after the 2017-18 season if he declines the player option in the three-year, $99.85 million deal that he signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016. Now, will team owner Dan Gilbert repeat the mistake of 2010 when he allowed James to walk away and bring his talents to South Beach or will he trade him this season to give the Cavaliers something in return?

These were the questions raised by Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report in his report, saying that Gilbert is a businessman who doesn’t like to come out on a losing end of a deal. In 2010, he let James leave the Cavaliers in free agency, without getting anything in return. Now, his latest moves might drive away LeBron from his hometown team and seek refuge with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018.

While the Golden State Warriors handed general manager Bob Myers an extension after beating the Cavaliers in five games in last season’s NBA Finals, Gilbert let GM David Griffin walk away despite being the architect of Cleveland’s first NBA title two seasons ago.

Gilbert let Griffin leave at the most crucial time when the Cavaliers were negotiating a trade with the Chicago Bulls for Jimmy Butler. When Griffin was let go, the Bulls shipped Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Draft Day. The Cavs also missed out on acquiring Paul George from the Indiana Pacers, who traded the All-Star to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

James has no-trade clause in contract

However, it will be difficult for the Cavaliers to ship James because he has a no-trade clause in his contract, meaning he could veto any trade that Cleveland makes.

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LeBron James Los Angeles Lakers

Also, it will be hard for Cavs to find a taker for James’ $33.3 million salary for the 2017-18 season. These two issues will put Gilbert in a bind while James will have all the aces in his hand.

Cavaliers’ value expected to drop again if James leaves

When James left the Cavaliers in 2010, the value of the franchise suffered a 26 percent drop to $355 million, below the 2005 purchase price of $375 million.

When James returned in 2014, the Cavaliers’ value zoomed from $515 million to its present amount of $1.2 billion. If James leaves, Gilbert must expect another 26 percent drop or $312 million from its current value. To convince James to stay, Gilbert must fill up the front office with people who will help the Cavs become Warriors-ready. Last season, the 32-year-old James averaged 26.4 points, a career-high 8.6 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game, making 54.8 percent of his attempts from the floor.

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