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Kyrie Irving and Luol Deng: Two Reasons LeBron James Should Return to Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron James' Legacy Isn't Complete Without Addressing the Unfinished Business Back at Home

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Kyrie Irving and Luol Deng: Two Reasons LeBron James Should Return to Cleveland Cavaliers
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LeBron James playing against Golden State Warriors.

COMMENTARY | If this were an episode of "Shark Tank," I'd definitely be on board with the novel idea of LeBron James heading back to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Miami Heat star, despite all the half-cocked reasons swirling about, has two legitimate reasons for heading back to his hometown and giving his city a shot at an NBA title: Kyrie Irving and Luol Deng.

The Cavs acquired Deng from the Chicago Bulls on Jan. 6 for Andrew Bynum, along with three future draft picks before the contract guarantee deadline.

Given the fact the 7-footer was under suspension for behavior "detrimental" to the team, paired with rumors he had fallen out of love for the game of basketball, the move made perfect sense. And just like that, the Bulls waived Bynum on Jan. 8, as many predicted they would.

With Deng on the Bulls' roster, Fox Sports wrote this about the former Duke standout: "Deng is averaging a career-best 19 points this season and has been a member of the league's All-Defensive team. He's also a former winner of the NBA's sportsmanship award, and his professionalism will be welcomed by the Cavaliers …"

He's only 28 and at 6 feet 9 inches, Deng has the length that gives him an edge over shooters in pick-and-roll plays. Moreover, the two-time NBA All-Star is agile on his feet and can explode into the lane with authority, while using his size for second-chance points from offensive rebounds.

Can you just imagine Irving, James and Deng in transition knocking down points before defenders even have a chance to set up?

In comparing Irving and Wade overall, the Cavs guard takes the honors. Both players contribute similar minutes per game (34.45), are comparable in field goals made (eight per game), and are tied in free throws attempted (4.8) and drawing personal fouls (3.8). However, Kyrie leads in points per game (22.0 vs. 19.6), has more shot-attempts (18.8 vs. 14.7), and is more efficient than Wade from the line (84.3 percent vs. 70.1 percent).

By no means am I making the case that Wade is washed up -- far from it. Instead, I'm looking at the long-term picture and what may best benefit a player, professionally, and an NBA franchise vying for a championship.

Wade is still a top-notch player, but his explosiveness is waning as his legs continue failing him as he ages. And despite having some of the best medical technologies and professionals available to him, age and wear-and-tear eventually take over.

Irving and Dion Waiters, two alphas dogs, don't appear as if they've found a way to complement one another while they're both on the court. After watching them over a season, it's clear to me that Mike Brown can get more out of them if they are not on the floor at the same time. Waiters is a good sixth man right now, but his lack of chemistry with Irving partly explains why the Cavs are struggling.

It's where having experience plays an important part in creating roles for players accustomed to having the offense worked around them. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, David Robinson and Tim Duncan and the Karl Malone-John Stockton tandem worked well together in the past.

The Miami Heat's LeBron James and Dwyane Wade represent the Batman and Robin of the NBA today. But after seeing one too many images like this of D-Wade's sore knees, it leads me to believe that Bron-Bron should pack his bags and head back to Akron to finish what he began.

He's the best player in the league right now, hands down. He has four MVP trophies under his belt and two NBA titles. By all accounts, he could stop now and still enter the Hall of Fame when he hangs up his sneakers.

Now, it's all about legacy and giving back to his home.

I'd argue that the reason his main home is still in Cleveland tells where his heart is. And with the impact worn off from the spectacle of his foolhardy departure to the Heat, fans will embrace his return and he can focus on filling the void on his resume.

It's a fitting story and one that is about timing. And if the media-hyped three-peat quest goes bust, it makes even a stronger argument why James should trek back north.

Picture this for a moment: Bigs, Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson with James, Irving and Deng rounding out Cleveland's starters. It's chilling to think what an assemblage of players would be to the game of basketball and how Dan Gilbert can finally eat his cake, too.

Perhaps, this quote from former President Bill Clinton sums up what LeBron James must be thinking about going back to the Cleveland: "I know it is unpopular. I know the timing is unpopular. I know the whole thing is unpopular. But I believe it is the right thing."

What LeBron James does or where he winds up after the summer frenzy of free agency plays out is anyone's guess. But the final chapter of the best player in the world's legacy would best be written in his native city and all the raving fans left behind in his "Decision" wake are invited back to the victory parade.

Part of that fanciful tale has to include Irving and Deng.

Bradley is a professional writer, journalist, sportswriter and avid follower of the Olympics, NBA, NFL, NCAA, PGA and tennis. He keeps a watchful eye on Miami Heat and Miami Dolphins developments.

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