So the big sports news out of the NBA today is that Lebron returned to Cleveland for his first game as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. He was given a hero’s welcome and a video tribute from the Cavs; this was a classy move by both sides and not the hard break that happened the last time he left Cleveland during the decision. Furthermore, the game was much closer than expected, with the Lakers pulling out a close 109-105. It was close all throughout, and the Cavs were actually leading by a little for most of the game. Now, while most of the news will rightfully be about Lebron, there is the state of the two franchises to consider. The Lakers, while now holding a 10-7 record, are still finding themselves and are not yet seen as a true contender in the West. Even with the Warriors, Jazz, and several other teams struggling early on, the Lakers have ways to go before they can legitimately contend for a title this season. As for the Cavs, this is just the start of a long rebuild. Only time will tell whether this rebuild will be even longer and more painful than the last time Lebron left; however, it seems like it will be at least 5 years before they could possibly get back to playoff caliber. They have some pieces that they can begin to build around; however, once Kevin Love comes back healthy, the Cavs should look to trade him because it is clear they are not going anywhere with or without him.
Another big development out of the NBA is Markelle Fultz’s status with the 76ers. Some reports claim that Fultz and his agent would prefer a trade away from the 76ers, which would allow both sides to have a fresh start. The real question though is, what exactly is Fultz’s trade value right now? Obviously, it is clear that the 76ers would lose a ton of value from their original #1 pick. Would the 76ers even be able to get a first round pick from a star desperate team? While they could probably get a first-round pick, it would likely be protected and unlikely to be in the lottery. At this point, they have to decide whether they want to abandon him completely, or whether they think they still have a chance to redevelop his shot and his fit with the team. It is a tough question to answer, but at this point it is obvious that the Jayson Tatum (+ a first round pick) for Markelle Fultz trade will go down as one of the worst of all time for the 76ers.