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LeBron James explains omitting Andrew Wiggins from Sports Illustrated letter

Minnesota Timberwolves v Cleveland Cavaliers

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 23: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers handles the ball against Andrew Wiggins #22 of the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first half at Quicken Loans Arena on December 23, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

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When LeBron James announced his decision to sign with the Cavaliers in 2014, he wrote in his Sports Illustrated letter:

I see myself as a mentor now and I’m excited to lead some of these talented young guys. I think I can help Kyrie Irving become one of the best point guards in our league. I think I can help elevate Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters.

The absence of Andrew Wiggins – whom Cleveland had drafted No. 1 overall just a couple weeks prior – stood out. That was particularly true because it had already been reported the Cavaliers would try to trade for Kevin Love if they signed LeBron.

Did LeBron know the Cavs would deal Wiggins in the Love trade (which they of course eventually did)? Why else would LeBron omit him?

LeBron, via Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports:

“I didn’t know the kid, really,” James told Yahoo Sports. “I knew Dion. I knew Kyrie. I knew Tristan. I knew all the guys that I was playing with before. I didn’t know the kid, so it wasn’t no big issue to me.”

I mean, that’s certainly plausible.

LeBron definitely had longstanding relationships with Irving and Thompson. And Waiters said LeBron called him before the announcement and hinted at signing with Cleveland, which I don’t think LeBron would’ve done unless he already knew Waiters enough to trust him.

But it’s not as if Wiggins were a complete stranger to LeBron.

Wiggins played in front of LeBron at LeBron’s camp in 2012:

James Herbert of CBSSports.com:

here’s another thing I’ll never forget: Wiggins quietly waiting outisde of the visiting locker room at the Air Canada Centre in 2013 when the Miami Heat were in town. When James came out, he greeted Wiggins with, “What’s up? You good? How’s everything?”

Considering LeBron’s interest in acquiring Love, I’m still not completely sold LeBron left Wiggins out of the article simply because they didn’t know each other. There’s still a solid chance LeBron knew Cleveland’s plans – and that those might include trading Wiggins.

If that were the case, LeBron obviously would’ve been right.