Cavs Agree to LeBron James Sign-and-Trade; Mural Coming Down
And in doing so, they enabled James to make more money and sign for an extra year, and they helped the Miami Heat's salary cap situation.
In addition, workers started removing the giant photo of James that had hung in downtown Cleveland. The "witness'' sign should be gone in a few days, perhaps officially ending the James era in Cleveland.
"We are removing the LeBron James Witness mural in downtown Cleveland and expect the process to be completed within a few days," Nike spokesman KeJuan Wilkins said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
Wilkins said he does not yet know what the company's plans are for the 10-story high sign that has dominated downtown Cleveland's skyline for years. It hung at the corners of Ontario and Prospect avenues, adjacent to Quicken Loans Arena.
The Cavs announced early Saturday that they had agreed to a sign-and-trade deal with the Heat for James, the reigning two-time MVP.
The Heat sent Cleveland two first-round draft picks and two second-round picks, as well as a large trade exception, for James. The first-round picks could be between 2013 and 2017. The second-round picks are in 2012 (acquired from New Orleans) and a future pick acquired from Oklahoma City. For some reason, the Cavs will have the option to swap 2012 first-round picks with the Heat as well. The trade exception can be used within one year.
"This deal provides us with multiple key assets and additional flexibility as we move forward for both the short term and beyond," Cavs GM Chris Grant said.
It also took a lot of swallowing from owner Dan Gilbert, who clearly remains seriously miffed at James for leaving, and for the way he left. But the trade allowed James to sign a six-year, max deal with Miami.
The Cavs had been considering renouncing rights to their free agents to create cap room, but instead decided to keep those rights intact and acquire the picks, which they hope to turn into players as they rebuild from the devastating loss of James.
Gilbert could not resist one "hidden" swipe at James. He owns the company that makes Fatheads, and he put a Fathead of James dunking in a Cavs uniform on sale, from $99.99 to $17.41. The significance: 1741 was the year Revolutionary War traitor Benedict Arnold was born.
Gilbert's feelings touched into the raw emotions in Cleveland, which will remain raw for some time. Michael Reghi, local radio talk show host and Cavs broadcaster for the first few years of James' career, said he and everyone else in Cleveland had been "duped" by James. Joe Tait, the team's longtime radio voice, told the Plain Dealer that James' TV show "an embarrassment" to all involved and said James' decision was based on "pure ego."
"He played here for seven years and didn't win a championship," Tait said. "He wants a championship now. He's got everything else. In Miami, he may or may not get it."
All souvenirs with James' name were quickly removed from the team shop at Quicken Loan Arena, and Cleveland merchants did their best to discount merchandise with his name.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that James' annual Bike-a-Thon in his hometown of Akron remains on schedule. It's not known yet if James will take part.