The Lebron James free agent rumors have really run wild, and he's not officially eligible to even opt out of his contract at the moment. What can you expect? He's only the best basketball player in the NBA, and one of the more familiar faces and names in sports. There's a lot of speculation on where will Lebron James be in 2010. At this point, there might be a valid theory on why Lebron James will be playing in Bolivia next year. Of course anything that I say, or what anyone else says is just hearsay and rumors at this point.
For now, all we can do is sit back, speculate, and watch as this summer's hottest free agent in Lebron James, decides where he'll play next year. There's recently been quite a few entertaining tales to why Lebron is leaving, and where he's going. There's been reports about Lebron house hunting with Michael Jordan in Chicago. Yeah, like his Airness is just dying to hand over his thrown, in his own backyard, to potentially one of the greatest players the NBA has ever seen. Does anyone not remember Michael Jordan's hall of fame speech? It doesn't sound like a guy who is now full owner for the Charlotte Bobcats, with a known grudge against the Chicago Bulls organization, and with an ego the size of the empire state building, is in the kind of nature to do Lebron or the Chicago Bulls any favors. Of course the other hottest rumor spreading wild is about guard Delonte West, from the Cleveland Cavaliers having an affair with Lebron James's mother, Gloria James. Would Delonte West still be breathing if that were true?
Let the speculation, theories, analysis, and psychics begin to discuss the possibilities of where The King will play in 2010-11! Lebron James can opt out of his three year deal with Cleveland Cavaliers this summer, and become the biggest free agent on the market this summer. This will arguably be the most important decision he makes in his still very young basketball career. At age 25, he's heading into his prime and is already a two-time MVP. Lebron James has done just about everything imaginable since he and his sneaks hit the hardwood floor at the age of 18, back in 2003. He's become the fastest player ever to 15,000 points, who is a legit triple-threat force every times he steps out on he court.
Lebron James has done it all --- except win an NBA championship. For Lebron James to be put next to the all-time greats, like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Bill Russell, and Magic Johnson, his next goal is to become a multi-champion like these all-time great NBA legends. So where Lebron James plays next year will be a hard, and well thought out decision for him to make. After seeing his seven years in Cleveland, one man can't do it all. Jordan himself couldn't do it alone, Lebron is no different.
I myself am a Cleveland Cavalier fan, have been my entire life. So naturally I have a rooting interest in where he plays. I'm from the same city, Akron, Ohio, just like Lebron James. I've watched him play his entire career, and seem to understand him well at a basketball standpoint. I truly realize how devastating it would be for my city of Cleveland if Lebron James were to leave this summer. This is a city that does not forgive betrayal, and Lebron James would stab these people in the heart with his departure of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Even though a man has to do what's best for himself, Cleveland fans live and breath sports. When Jordan hit the shot over Ehlo, roars of boos would fill the arena for the rest of Jordan's playing days in Cleveland. Lebron would be cast as public enemy number one if he were to leave. That's the fallout of his decision for one city.
I think he will strongly consider leaving Cleveland, and he really has every right to so if that is what he chooses. There's no undying loyalty in sports. A player is just as worthy to a team, as his healthy ligaments or ability to them as physical aspect. I believe respect should be apart of sports, but in the end, everyone will do what is best for themselves. An organization has to do what is best for the organization, just like a player has to do what is best of himself and his family. So if Lebron leaves Cleveland, its a decision you can't really fault him for, well unless you live in Cleveland and haven't seen a championship in over 40 years. Yeah, there's some hurt and agony for the blue collar population in Northeast Ohio.
I personally think where he goes will come down to one major factor. I believe it's really simple, where can Lebron James become that Michael Jordan/Larry Bird/Magic Johnson kind of legend? Does he need a big market? Not really, he's already the face of the NBA, and the face of sports in his own backyard in Cleveland. Lebron James has stated winning championships is his number one focus. Watching him play over the years, seeing the frustration in his face when they lose, I believe him. How could you not?
Every superstar in sports understands that their legacy is built on championships. Not shoe contracts, tv deals, markets, or any other endorsements. To be the biggest, and best, it always comes down to winning. It's the reasons why Dan Marino, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, and other great players in their sport get left out of the talk of being legendary at what they do. They get left out as being the best in their sport. Despite their spectacular careers, no one remembers losing. Winning is how you're remembered in American folklore. That's how superstars are judged. Lebron James understands that.
So I will break down the potential, top places I see Lebron James playing basketball in 2010. Of course this is all speculation, since I personally don't even think Lebron James knows what he's going to do. This summer for basketball fans will at least give us something to talk about. Where will Lebron James be in 2010? The one question all sport fans and writers will ponder until sometime in July.
1.) New Jersey Nets: I know, they won how many games last year? Yeah, I just got done saying I believe Lebron will go where he sees the best chance of winning a championship. Hear me out, the Nets did have a terrible record last year, I understand they won only 12 games in 2009-10. This team was never healthy throughout the season. They have a young team, with some solid pieces in place for Lebron James to grow with. Let's face it, you can put Lebron James on any team in the NBA, and they're going to win close to 50 games. He's that good, and makes others around him much better.
Pros: The Nets provide an interesting case, if they can find a way to dump more salary before Lebron's eligible to become a free agent. If that happens I can't see why Lebron wouldn't sign with the Nets. I would be stunned if it didn't happen. I'm not sure if the Nets can do that, without dangling that third overall pick to another team, in order to clear salary cap space in a trade, to attract another marquee free agent. It would be smart for them to at least try. If they did, they'd have the chance to sign two superstars, another top quality free agent like Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, or Amar'e Stoudemire.
Then all of a sudden, a Lebron James and say Chris Bosh for example make a bottom dweller team into a contender. Hey, if it happen to the Boston Celtics in the summer of 2007 when they traded for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, why not the New Jersey Nets? They already have a very promising, young, and potential all-star in Brook Lopez. He's a very polished and skilled player. Devin Harris is also a very good player when healthy, and they currently have the number 3 overall pick(if they keep it). Recently the franchise was bought buy billionaire Russian owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, who is willing to spend an unlimited amount of money. Oh yeah, Lebron's very good friend rapper Jay-Z who is part owner of the Nets, and is trying to relocated the Nets to Brooklyn, Lebron's favorite borough in New York.
Cons: They have no current head coach, but I'm sure anyone who they hire will be approved by Lebron James. Still, a bit of a dicey situation with a team that did just win 12 games last season. To be fair, the Nets were banged up all season long and they are a better team than their record. That's why I'd say they'd really need to find a way to pair Lebron up with another superstar, to make New Jersey the clear number one option. Truth be told, I don't think any of the teams Lebron James can join this summer makes them a favorite to win a championship next year. At least if the Nets can't find a way to dump salary in trades, in order to sign another superstar free agent. New Jersey will be a very strong place for Lebron, and a team he heavily considers.
2.) Cleveland: I know I might sound bias saying this, but Lebron James is from northeast Ohio. His family and friends are from here. He's lived in this area his entire life. This is home. The first decision Lebron has to make, is if he wants to leave home. Not where he wants to play, but whether he wants to leave home. That's the first, long and very hard decision he'll have to make. Hey, home is where the heart is, right? I'm one of the few Cavalier fans who will understand if he does leave. Basketball is just a game, and there is more to life. I hope he stays, mostly for die hard fans who really love the city of Cleveland sports. Cleveland has had its fair share of heartbreaks in sports, and if you love an underdog, you can't help yourself to root for them to eventually break their dry spell of a championship drought.
Pros: Outside this being his hometown, Cleveland has a dedicated front office and owner who will do anything to win. Dan Gilbert himself is a very rich man, a guy who will go deep into his pockets at all costs. Part of being with the right organization, is having a front office and ownership you can trust. I believe Lebron James trusts and has faith in general manager Danny Ferry and owner Dan Gilbert. It doesn't always come down to who is on your team, but what the organization is willing to do to make the team better.
Not all organizations have the philosophy that the Cleveland Cavaliers do. So ownership and general management is definitely a strong factor for Cleveland. Dan Gilbert and Danny Ferry have gone through the gates of hell, desperately trying to put together a team for Lebron James to win a championship with. The team did win 60 games back-to-back, despite their back-to-back disappointing playoff exits. So the Cavs have dedication to bringing a winning team, hometown, and trust in organization to sell to Lebron James this summer. Three decent things to bargain with. Lebron James would have a hard time looking these two in the eye, and telling them they're not willing to do everything to make the Cavs a winning team.
Cons: Cleveland just doesn't have a way to pair Lebron James with another superstar. Batman needed Robin, Jordan needed Pippen, and Magic needed Worthy and Kareem. So yeah, you get picture, Cleveland is too relied on one guy. They recently just fired their head coach Mike Brown. Although there's been reports the two didn't see eye-to-eye, the Cavs have a big vacancy to fill. Who is going to coach this team? No reasonable head coach will agree to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers, until Lebron James has signed with Cleveland. A lot of question marks loom on the roster, and they're just not a championship caliber team at the moment. As we saw their debacle against the Boston Celtics, and last year their upset to the Orlando Magic. They don't have the salary cap room to sign a big free agent like Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, or Amar'e Stoudemire as well. Cleveland has a lot to sell to Lebron, unfortunately. Home town, trust, and a reliable front office are three things they'll have to sell pretty hard.
3.) New York Knicks: A place Lebron has been quoted on saying, that the Madison Square Garden is his favorite basketball arena to play in. Lebron James has been quite vocal, never shy about admitting his admiration for the city of New York. Despite growing up in Akron, he's a proclaim long-life New York Yankees fan. New York Knick fans, god only knows, sure hasn't seen the broadway lights shine brightly on their Knick franchise for the past 15 years.
Pros: They have a ton of cap space, and can offer Lebron James the opportunity to play with another superstar who also is a free agent. Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, or Amar'e Stoudemire. Or possibly another perennial all-star like Dirk Nowitzki or Joe Johnson. The Knicks present a very legit chance, which once upon a time felt more like a pipe dream for desperate Knick fans, rather than a reality. Give president Donny Walsh a lot of credit for putting the Knicks in the best position possible to signing the best player in basketball.
Cons: The problem with the Knicks is simple, they're terrible. Every player on their roster, outside David Lee, are guys they'd like to get rid of I'm sure. The Knicks have made no attempt in the past year to put a team together. Everything they've done was built to get rid of salary, in order to put themselves in position to sign Lebron. That doesn't make a real presentable case to a guy who is looking to win NBA championships right away. Even if you pair him with a Chris Bosh, Wade, etc.. Even great teams, with great players, need valuable role players. How many times did players like Steve Kerr, Robert Horry, Bruce Bowen, or Derrick Fisher step up big for their championship teams? Role players do matter. Even in a sport that's dominated by superstars.
Another con is the coaching staff. With all due respect to Mike D'Antoni, he's never preached defense or has his teams been known for tough gritty play. Lebron James is a firm believer in defense, and has fanatically shown that belief by becoming one of the league's best defenders. Lebron believes in defense, and believes that is what wins championships. He believed in Cleveland's approach of building a team identity of defense, and was sold by Mike Brown's principles, despite any disagreements the two had about game adjustments. I've seen Lebron angrily snarl at teammates for blowing defensive covers. Lebron has always stated he takes pride in his, and the teams effort on the defensive side of the ball. He values defense as high as anything when it comes to winning. He'd be going to team that has no identity, and one that's very far from a defensive philosophy that he believes in.
4.) Chicago Bulls: The city where Michael Jordan won 6 championships. A lot of talk has heated up about him being a Bull, but I really don't see it. I wouldn't say they have no chance, but I see other options for Lebron before Chicago. Chicago seems to have more cons, than pros, and Lebron James will make a very thorough and careful decision when choosing a destination.
Pros: He gets to play in a big market, for those conspiracy theorist who think that will be his ultimate decision. The real pro that will attract Lebron is playing with the very young, and talented Derrick Rose. A guy clearly on the upside, of becoming one of the best point guards and players in the NBA. The opportunity to play with another player like that, is something Lebron James is lacking in his career. Another potential robin.
Cons: I really can't figure out why everyone has Lebron a Chicago Bull already. I mean, am I missing something here? This organization has proven year after year, to do nothing but underachieve as a franchise. They've proven to be unreliable and have disorganized management running the franchise. John Paxson hasn't really proven he's a qualified general manger. The guy recently got into a scuffle with ex-head coach Vinny Del Negro, which only briefly illustrates quite a few incidents of the turmoil that has loomed over this franchise since Michael Jordan left.
This is the same owner who also decided to break up Michael Jordan's 1998 championship team. The Chicago Bulls are hardly the Roman empire of basketball. The two young pieces in Rose and Noah are tempting. Again, I see a problem with that as well. First off, Noah is a very good player, not a superstar caliber big man that will attract Lebron.
Forgive me, if I haven't mistaken him as the second coming of Tim Duncan or Kevin Garnett. The second player in Rose is a very good and up-coming talent. His style of play might hinder the way Lebron plays. Both Lebron and Rose like to play with the ball in their hands. Again, Rose isn't that go-to, dominate scorer to play off Lebron. Outside these two young players, the Bulls have a lot of question marks on their roster and they currently do not have a head coach. A team with Lebron James needs floor spacing, and shooters. Lebron has the ball in his hands about 90% of the time, and prefers having players play off him. Chicago was ranked 28th in the NBA in shooting. After watching years of poor shooting teams assembled around Lebron in Cleveland, he sure would get frustrated over guys missing uncontested jump shots.
5.) Miami Heat: Miami is known to be one of the more desirable places in live. Warm weather, nice beaches, good nightlife for young guys like Lebron James. They have quite a few perks that could make Lebron James a Heat in 2010.
Pros: Dwyane Wade. He's a fantastic basketball player, arguably top 3 in the NBA. The idea of seeing Lebron and Wade on the same team is frightening. Both players are in the peak of their career, and both don't show any signs of slowing down anytime soon. Another pro is Pat Riley, the legendary hall of fame coach, who has five championship rings. He's currently the vice president of basketball operations for the Miami Heat, and could be intrigued of coaching Dwyane Wade and Lebron James.
Cons: Dwyane Wade is a free agent, and he himself isn't sure about the teams direction, or his own future with the organization. Wade and Lebron are such big stars, although great friends, could have trouble swallowing their pride a bit and being labeled the "second guy" to the other. Although at the end of the day, both guys probably would enjoy the chance to play together. If they could have it their way, both players probably rather play with a dominant big man that suites each player's game more. Both players are known to dominate the ball a lot, and playing together might be an adjustment.