Report: Everyone on Cavs knew LeBron was playing under ‘form of protest’ in part of final year with team

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Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

In LeBron James’ final season with the Cleveland Cavaliers back in 2018, it seemed all but certain that the four-time MVP was going to leave the franchise for the second time in his career in the following offseason.

Rumblings were practically constant that he was not entirely happy with the team, and it was no shock when he left the franchise for the Los Angeles Lakers that ensuing offseason.

Beyond that, it turns out that everyone on that team that season knew that James was unhappy. According to a recent report, the four-time NBA champ was playing under a “form of protest” for part of that season.

“There was plausible deniability, but in mid-January James started playing under a form of protest,” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst wrote. “Everyone on the team knew it and it was evident if you watched closely enough, James’ foot was off the gas. Gilbert and Cavs general manager Koby Altman were at a crossroads and knew there was a strong chance James was leaving in free agency but they still had the rest of the season.”

As a result, the Cavs made a flurry of moves prior to that season’s trade deadline and reloaded the roster for another chance to advance to the NBA Finals. The gamble paid off, and the Cavs did get through the Eastern Conference bracket that campaign. Sadly, they hit a familiar wall in the finals in the form of the Golden State Warriors.

Shortly after that finals loss, James bid adieu to the Cleveland faithful once more.

Years later, it now seems as though James may be growing tired of the Lakers organization. Though he won a title in his second season with the team, his tenure has been filled with low moments. James has endured much more losing than he’s typically experienced in his career.

Only time will tell if James remains in L.A. or goes somewhere else to pursue more titles.

As for the Cavs, they’ve managed to navigate one of the more successful rebuilds in recent memory and are surely chomping at the bit to get back on the court to resume their playoff chase.

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Jonathan is a freelance writer, filmmaker, and passionate fan of the NBA. In the past Jonathan has covered politics, entertainment, travel, and more. He is a proud contributor of Cavaliers Nation.