Cavaliers Cashing in on LeBron's Questionable Future

Cavaliers beat writer Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting that the Cavs have renewed approximately 95% of their season ticket plans from last year and are threatening to completely sellout every home game of the 2009-2010 campaign. Windy also reports that the Cavs are either first or near the top in every ticket-selling category in the NBA.

Not bad for a team from "small market" Cleveland. Not bad at all, actually.

News of the success the Cavs are experiencing with season tickets for this upcoming season got me thinking. Everybody knows that the 2009-2010 season could possibly be LeBron's last with the Cavaliers as it is highly speculated (by the NY media) that he will opt-out of his current contract next summer and become a free agent. LeBron has been pretty secretive when it comes to his future plans - with the exception of an alleged free agent recruitment here and there.

Here is my question:

Do the Cavaliers, as an organization, prefer LeBron to make it appear that the 2009-2010 season could be his last in Cleveland for the benefit of selling more season ticket plans?

GM Danny Ferry would never admit to it. Owner Dan Gilbert would chase me off his porch with his custom Cavaliers snow shovel if he heard this. But either way, the Cavs are benefiting from LeBron's "flirtation" with leaving Cleveland in 2010 in a big way and this report by Brian Windhorst proves it. Sure, the Big Shaquisition played a definitive role in the increase of season ticket sales, but not as much as LeBron's pending free agency has. People are starting to view 2009-2010 as Cleveland's last chance to win a championship and who can blame them? The team playing across the street at Progressive Field isn't even going to sniff .500 this season and the Browns are at least 4 or 5 years away from really competing with the top level teams in the NFL.

If I was in charge of marketing for the Cavs the possible sales slogans for prospective season ticket holders would have included:

Get your 2009-2010 season tickets: This Could Be LeBron's Last Season in Cleveland. Did You Hear We Got Shaq?

Get your 2009-2010 season tickets: "Do or Die" starring LeBron James and featuring Shaq. Win a Title and LeBron Stays. Lose and He's Gone.

Get your 2009-2010 season tickets: LeBron and Shaq combine forces to take on space aliens who are threatening to destroy Cleveland. Will you be there to cheer them on?

Ok, that last one was just for fun but you get the idea.

Regardless of whether the Cavs were planning on benefiting from LeBron's pending free agency or not, the fact is they are. At least this July, anyway. Hopefully next July won't be any different.


Cavaliers Running Out of Options

With signing day less than 12 hours away the Cavs don’t have many options left in free agency but that doesn’t mean they won’t get something done. The Cavs have already made a splash by picking up The Big Freeze, but they seem to be coming up short of getting another impact player. One that I think they must get to be able to contend for a championship.

I’m not going to count out Trevor Ariza yet. He told Houston that he’ll sign with them but there are still little rumors flying around. Apparently LeBron has reached out to Trevor in an attempt to bring him to Cleveland, telling Trevor that he (LeBron) will still be in Cleveland after 2010. Whether that’s true or not, I’m hearing that Trevor Ariza could be backing out of his agreement with Houston (aka pulling a "Boozer"). Could this be why Ferry and Coach Brown flew out to the Left Coast?

An off the wall option could be Josh Childress. After playing a year overseas he seems to be ready to come back to the NBA. He’s a lanky small forward who has a lot of hustle in him. Doesn’t really have an outside game but can crash the boards and play solid defense.

One way or another the Cavs are going to get an impact player before the trade deadline comes next February. Don't forget about the Mo Williams trade last summer that nobody saw coming. If the Cavs fail to pick up that impact free agent this summer there will still be teams trying to dump salary at the trade deadline or maybe even sooner. If a team finds itself struggling to stay in the playoff race around the trading deadline in February they may be looking to cash in on a 2010 free agent who they don't expect to re-sign: Chris Bosh, anyone?