Tuesday, May 18, 2010
1. How Will The LeBron Situation Play Out?
Henry Abbott, TrueHoop: I think he'll go wherever he thinks he can win the most championships as soon as possible. The two most important kinds of teammates he can have are a good big man and a good point guard.
Miami and New York have neither, but either could pair him with another free agent (or two). Chicago has Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, and New Jersey might be able to provide John Wall and Brook Lopez, so those are interesting options.
But nobody can deliver a knockout roster immediately, so the Cavaliers stay in the hunt.
J.A. Adande, ESPN.com: He might take the tour around the league because he likes the attention, but it's hard to see a better situation for him than Chicago, where he could have a potential Hall of Fame sidekick in Derrick Rose and plenty of supporting cast members such as Joakim Noah.
At times in Chicago's first-round series versus the Cavaliers, the only thing keeping the Bulls from winning was LeBron. Imagine if he joined them.
Chris Broussard, ESPN The Magazine: LeBron will visit Chicago (45 percent chance he lands there), New York (18 percent chance) and possibly other places. He'll soul-search about whether he can win titles in Cleveland, where they don't have a ton of roster flexibility. He'll consult other free agents about playing in New York and Chicago. At end of the day, I think he chooses Chicago.
John Hollinger, ESPN.com: He'll soak up all the attention and do the full tour. But at the end of the day I think he's going to try to rig it so he, Wade and Bosh end up on same team, or at least two of them. Right now, that's most plausible in Miami.
Chris Sheridan, ESPN.com: Between now and July 1, the pendulum will swing hard in various directions, and it'll swing harder after that. But when it comes time for the sales pitches to begin, my money is on Mr. Smooth, Pat Riley.
I also wouldn't be shocked if LeBron, Wade and a third free agent all took four-year deals with three-year opt-outs, which means the next Summer of LeBron could come as soon as 2013.
Marc Stein, ESPN.com: I never would have imagined seeing the stay-in-Cleveland numbers so low in mid-May, but I still see staying with the Cavs as the most likely LeBron scenario. It's just not going to be that easy for him to walk away from Dan Gilbert's spare-no-expense ownership -- which might well result in the hiring of John Calipari before the Bulls get him -- and the latest episode of sports torture for the fans in LeBron's backyard … torture with his name on it.
But he's definitely going to take a long look at all the options, even with those Ohio ties, so allow me to spotlight one team in addition to the rising LeBron-to-Chicago speculation, Pat Riley/Dwyane Wade in Miami and the usual New York chatter: New Jersey. If the Nets get John Wall in the lottery to go with new owner Mikhail Prokhorov's riches, LeBron has to listen. Has to.
He doesn't Need New York
By Chris Broussard
ESPN The Magazine
The notion that every player -- or at least every star player -- in the NBA wants to play in New York tickles me.
In the early 2000s, while a Knicks beat writer for The New York Times, I remember being baffled because many of my colleagues and readers thought every skilled free agent was headed to New York -- even though all the Knicks could offer such max-salary talent was the midlevel exception. They thought Grant Hill would leave Detroit for the Knicks (for less coin) and Chris Webber would spurn Sacramento for the Big Apple (and chump change).
Now, New York assumes it's getting LeBron James. At least the Knicks actually have the salary-cap space to pull this off. But while New York has a decent shot at LeBron, the idea that LeBron -- or any other great player -- needs New York or harbors this intense desire to play there is a joke.
LeBron, an endorsement king, is already the face of the NBA, despite being ringless in tiny Cleveland. The Internet and globalization have largely made where a player plays irrelevant in regard to marketing and popularity. So to suggest LeBron needs New York is nuts.
The only thing that can make him bigger is a title, not a town.
LeBron owes it to Cleveland to stay
The LeBron Saga, Part XXVII, in which our hero leaves Cleveland and is forever looked upon by residents of that city as if he were a resident of Pittsburgh.
As all the LeBron speculation and intrigue swirls around the regular-season MVP and where he might end up next after his earlier-than-expected vacation is over, little has been said about how he will be regarded in Cleveland and surrounding areas if he does indeed bail.
Needless to say, it won’t be pretty. Sales of LeBron jerseys in the area will plummet; sales of LeBron effigies will skyrocket. And there would be good reason for that.
If LeBron James leaves the Cavaliers, it wouldn’t be as if he were leaving the Clippers, who, in the NBA’s "Guide to Championship Basketball," are featured only in the chapter, "Don’t Let This Happen To You."
Instead, he will be bolting a franchise that did everything it could to surround him with a team capable of competing for a championship. Of course it didn’t work out that way. But the effort by ownership and management to make it happen was there. At no time did the club say, "That’s enough, LeBron. You should be able to win with what you have."
The Cavaliers’ entire existence in the past couple of years seems to have been dedicated to pleasing LeBron, knowing free agency would happen after this season. Yes, he probably is the best player in the world right now. But if LeBron ends up jilting Cleveland, he will be the most prominent ingrate who ever played the game.
Add to it that he is from Akron and would basically be turning his back on his own people and LeBron James will be pronounced “LeBron $@!%!” in those parts.
LeBron should stay in Cleveland. If he doesn’t, he’ll accomplish something previously believed to be impossible: He’ll raise Art Modell’s name above his in the estimation of the Ohio citizenry.