November 21, 2014

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Cavaliers Commentary: Can we please stop wildly speculating about LeBron’s future?

LeBron James, center left, hugs former players and coaches after Zydrunas Ilgauskas' jersey was retired on Saturday in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

LeBron James, center left, hugs former players and coaches after Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ jersey was retired on Saturday in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Yes, LeBron James attended Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ jersey retirement ceremony Saturday night at Quicken Loans Arena. So what?

Really, that’s all he did: He accepted a friend’s invitation and was on hand for an emotional and memorable evening honoring his former teammate. That’s what friends do for one another, isn’t it?

We all should just leave it at that, but in this day of Twitter, talk radio, national websites, amateur bloggers and, yes, old-time newspapermen, everything has to be rehashed, examined and dissected ad nauseam.

In the end, though, all we really know is what has already been stated: James, like dozens of others, accepted Ilgauskas’ invitation and watched the Cavaliers hoist jersey No. 11 to the rafters.

We’ll come back to that one final time later, but first let’s examine a few theories.

Some people want to view James’ attendance as a sign things have been smoothed over between him and the Cavs organization. Even if that is true — and we really don’t know that it is — the big leap at least a few people are making from there is that James’ decision to come to Cleveland on Saturday means he is willing to opt out of his contract with the Miami Heat and sign with the Cavs as an unrestricted free agent in July.

Others have opined that the Cavs’ firing of general manager Chris Grant ended any hope of James signing with Cleveland. Grant, that theory goes, spent more than three years mending fences and rebuilding bridges between the small forward, his closest confidantes and important people, i.e., owner Dan Gilbert, in the Cavs organization.

There are as many holes in both theories as there are in Cleveland’s defense on most nights.

Really, now, are we supposed to believe that because James attended a jersey retirement ceremony — and exchanged a long embrace with Cleveland coach Mike Brown, some might also point out — that he is going to leave a Heat franchise that has made three straight NBA Finals appearances and won two straight titles?

Are we to believe that because the Akron native sat quietly and watched the ceremony — so much for another theory about him upstaging Ilgauskas on his big night, huh? — that he is going to totally forget about 19-63, 21-45, 24-58 and, currently, 24-40?

On the flip side, are we to believe Grant was so vital in mending fences, so important to any chance of James returning to Cleveland, that Gilbert canned the GM after enduring more than 3½ years of abysmal basketball?

Come on, now, people. If Grant held the key to James returning to Cleveland, don’t you think he’d still be here preparing to make another lousy draft pick?

We could, of course, dissect each of these faulty theories in more depth.

We could wax poetic about how James really misses Northeast Ohio, about how he sees an aging Heat team whose roster isn’t all that tremendous if you project into next season and beyond, even about how he might look at Cavs players like Kyrie Irving, Spencer Hawes, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson and say, “You know what? Put me into that mix, drop everyone down a peg, add a couple more players in the offseason and we could be pretty darn good, pretty darn fast.”

Similarly, we could babble on and on about how awful the Cavs have been in almost four seasons without James and proclaim, “There’s no way he’s ever coming back to this mess.”

In reality, though, there’s way more that we don’t know than we do know.

We don’t know, No. 1, what James is thinking — or if he’s even thinking about next season at all right now.

We don’t know what Miami is going to do in the playoffs, nor do we really know what it will mean if the Heat wins it all or loses in, say, the Eastern Conference finals.

We don’t even know if James is going to opt out of his contract this summer, as playing one more season in Miami and seeing what the Heat does in the offseason certainly seems like, at the very least, a viable alternative at the moment.

What we do know — and it’s about the only thing we know with absolute certainty — is that James attended Ilgauskas’ jersey retirement ceremony.

For at least a few more months, let’s please — puh-leeze! — leave it at that.

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @RickNoland.