May 31, 2010 10 Comments
To kick off my inaugural web site, what better way to start than with a Lebron article? I know everyone and their mother has been writing a Lebron article ever since his lackluster playoff exit, why not another? For those who know me, I am not shy to admit I am a big Lebron fan, so I am a little more intrigued to see where he goes next year than the average fan.
Never have I seen this much hype for a sports off season… ever. It is ridiculous. Ever since Lebron was learning to drive a car, he was on the cover of ESPN, and had nationally televised high school games. I for one thought there was no way some kid could live up to that kind of hype. But seven years later, he is already regarded as one of the best players to play the game and still has a solid 10 years left. Lebron’s decision, at age 25, could shape up the entire NBA for the next decade. Steve Nash is 36 and looking better than ever, leading the Suns to two games from their first NBA Finals appearance in 17 years. (Who knows what Lebron is capable of?) David Stern is fully aware of the magnitude of Lebron’s decision and is trying to profit any way possible. To list a few examples of Lebron-related fines within the past few weeks: Mark Cuban for mentioning a sign and trade deal for Lebron ($100K later), The Hawks owner for commenting his disregard for the luxury tax to getLebron ($25K later), and even Steve Kerr for joking about signing Lebron to the mid-level exception ($10K later). It is clear, Stern doesn’t want anyone to influence this HUGE decision Lebron has on his hands. These fines make it all the more humorous when I hear that Lebron, Wade, Bosh, and Joe Johnson are all meeting up to discuss their future plans. Are they meeting to discuss their living situations in New York or what? To put myself in David Stern’s shoes, I am trying to find any loophole that permits me to fine players from discussing offseason moves. Who knows? Maybe they just wanted to get other player’s opinions on the various teams before making any real, definite decision (But you never know). Maybe it wasn’t just the players meeting but somehow Prokhorov (Nets Billionaire owner) organizing a secret meeting to entice free agents to come to New Jersey. We will never know, but it is always fun to speculate. The other day I stumbled upon a site with betting odds on where Lebron will end up next season. That is how major this story has become. But if all Lebron cares about is money, he can put some money on whichever team he plans on joining and reap the rewards. Bodog’s odds consisted of Miami (15-1 odds), Cleveland (5 to 4 odds), Chicago (3-2 odds), New York (5 to 2 odds), New Jersey (4 to 1 odds), and a long shot Dallas at 25 to 1 odds. With this in mind, I find it fun to give my take on the top 10 teams Lebron is most likely to sign with for the start of the 2011 season.
10. Greece Olympiacos- I had to start out with this possibility. As many may not remember, Lebron mentioned playing overseas as a long shot possibility. In fact, Bodog has Lebron heading to Greece at a 150 to 1 long shot. This idea is too ridiculous for me to explain, but this is the ULTIMATE money move. Lebron doesn’t seem like a player who would throw away his NBA legacy to make $100 million+ overseas. However, $100 million, last I checked is still $100 million. So you never know.
9. Los Angeles Clippers- I’m surprised how many people actually believe Lebron would consider risking the peak of his career with the CLIPPERS. For those of you who don’t know who the Clippers are, it is the Los Angeles minor league basketball team who happens to share an arena with the Lakers. The other day, I caught some of the Clipper parade outside of Staples before Game 5 of the Lakers-Suns. To be more specific, it was a Lebron parade where disgruntled Clippers fans marched around the arena begging and pleading for Lebron to sign in LA. Although LA is the 2nd biggest market, and the Clippers could offer a max contract, but I’d give the Lakers a better shot at signing Lebron (and that is saying something).
8. Los Angeles Lakers- That being said, I have the Lakers ahead of the Clippers on my list. Before you doubt this pick, the Lakers have more than enough tools to put together a great sign-and-trade deal if Danny Ferry would so choose. The reason I don’t have the Lakers higher on this list is the Kobe factor. I just can’t see Kobe relinquishing part of his “top dog” status in LA to Lebron (Even if it meant having a better duo than Jordan-Pippen). Yep, I said it. If Cleveland were dumb enough to pull a sign and trade deal, the Lakers would be one of the better options. You could throw in a deal for Lebron for Bynum, Odom, Artest and that could work just fine. I think this team would fit perfectly, because we all know he loves to pass, and who better to pass to, than one of the best players ever, Kobe Bryant.
7. Boston Celtics- If you can’t beat them, join them. The Celtics with KG have been Lebron’s Kryptonite for the past few seasons, and if Lebron truly wanted to win, he would join the other side. This might come as somewhat of a stretch but the Celtics are losing Ray Allen’s $20 million contract as well as Paul Pierce’s $21 million contract (Player Option) to free agency. Assuming the Celtics will only resign one of these players, that leaves plenty of room for Lebron. Even though the Celtics are primed for another championship, Danny Ainge knows that this aging team is on a short clock. Adding Lebron would only extend this a few more years. With pieces like Rondo and Garnett, Lebron would make this team another Celtics dynasty.
6. Dallas Mavericks- If this happened, I would be ecstatic. I have already made several promises, that if by some off chance Cuban were able to snag Lebron, I would immediately buy a jersey and season tickets. The early postseason exit by the Mavs only helps their chances at the Lebron sweepstakes. This is the kind of impetus Cuban needs. Mark Cuban’s determination, clout and deep pockets make me proud (and give me hope) that he is our owner. I have full confidence that Cuban will do everything in his power to sign one of these marquee free agents. Cuban gave me a preview that he is willing to work out a sign-and-trade with Cleveland. To add to it, Dallas is a top five media market, and home to Lebron’s favorite NFL team, the Dallas Cowboys. If Dirk doesn’t resign with Dallas (100 to 1 odds), then I am certain one of the four free agents from the free agent draft class will be a Maverick next season. In Cuban I trust.
5. New York Knicks- This is the casual fan’s favorite. The bright lights of New York would make Lebron an instant Icon. If Lebron were to even get the Knicks to playoff caliber, Lebron would rise to immediate immortality. Although, the Knicks have literally no one on salary for next season, they need to make TONS of moves prior to signing Lebron James. I just can’t see Lebron caring that much about money to go to a lesser team than Cleveland. Yes, if the Knicks sign 2 big free agents or even one major free agent plus a Hall of Fame coach, then the Knicks are definitely the favorites to capture Lebron. Unless Walsh and D’Antoni can pull some magic out of their sleeve, I see disappointment in the future for Knicks fans. If the Knicks don’t land a Lebron, Bosh, Wade, then the past two years have been for nothing. To the Knicks front office: if you don’t happen to sign one of these big three talents, Please (PLEASE) don’t give CarlosBoozer and Joe Johnson max contracts. That still wouldn’t even guarantee you eight seed (Plus Carmelo and Durant are possible free agents next year). Remember, patience is a virtue.
4. New Jersey Nets-The Nets are my humorous pick. With an owner like Prokhorov, there is no telling what the team can do. Having just bought a team that managed to win only 12 games last season, Prokhorov said he will bring a title to New Jersey/Brooklyn within five years. So needless to say, there is work to be done. In Interviews he has mentioned bringing in a coach with great NBA experience. This simply means ANY coach in the NBA is fair game (Remember there is no coaching salary cap). And don’t you think Prokhorov’s suave personality and his many of luxuries could persuade players to come to Brooklyn. I recently read an article on the brainstorming of the Nets’ new nickname, and I came across the Brooklyn Ballers. I don’t know what self-respecting player wouldn’t want to be a “Baller”, with quite possibly the greatest team amenities in the league. Trust me, if this is truly the new name for the team, then you will see me wearinga jersey the next day. I can go on forever; speculating about all the crazy things the Russian Mark Cuban is capable of, but on with the countdown.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers- If Lebron picks Cleveland, than this whole offseason will be considered a failure. Thankfully, the Cavs decomposed toward the end of the Celtics series, and Lebron didn’t end on good terms. There have been multiple theories on why Lebron mentally left the series 3 games early. From playing on medication to tanking games in request of the Prokhorov-controlled Russian Mafia, nobody will know the true story. And I am not even going to get into the possible Delonte West. What can be concluded from this: Lebron may find it easier to leave Cleveland after such a disaster opposed to winning a championship. I will give credit to Danny Ferry for desperately trying every move to keep Lebron in town, but in the end, Cleveland is still Cleveland. However, there also is a positive side. If Lebron stayed, he would pass Jim Brown as the Best Ohio Athlete EVER, as well as being a hometown hero too. As Bill Simmons’s best put it“choosing Cleveland would represent loyalty, New York- immortality, and Chicago- winning. I would have the Cavaliers at number one on my list, but I have never seen a player end a season on worse terms with the city in sometime. (Reminds me what Griffey did…he had such great potential and then went to Cincinnati and did nothing…then back to Mariners…he did not live up to his potential…doubt/hope that Lebron does not do go this route.)
2. Miami Heat- Miami has been rising fast on my Lebron big board. Mainly, because of Pat Riley and Dwyane Wade. Wade has made it very clear; he is leaving Miami unless the Heat could snag one of the few elite free agents. The Heat have plenty of room for one max contract player plus a few more good role players. To add to that, I promised if the Heat signed a Lebron or one of the other elite players, Pat Riley would return to the bench. This is something most other teams can’t offer. How many other teams can offer you a top 3 player in the league with a top 3 coach in the league (Plus $25 Million+). Not to mention, living in South Beach sure beats living in the dump that is Cleveland. If Miami was located in one of the major media markets, they would be number 1 on my list.
1. Chicago Bulls- This is the smart bet. To anyone with a brain, this is the place you go. If Lebron truly cared about winning and forming a dynasty similar to Michael Jordan’s, then this is the place. Chicago is the biggest sports town in the country (only rivaled by New York) and is home to his Airness. When the President of the United States recommends the Bulls to you, you listen. Who knows, maybe Lebron can ask for presidential immunity if he chose the Bulls. With a young cast of Derrick Rose, and Joakim Noah, they would get constant comparisons to a young Pippen and Rodman. The Bulls would have to hire a big name coach to entice Lebron to the windy city (I want to say Phil Jackson, but that would just be too much). The only downside I found in Chicago was Dwyane Wade’s recent comments on their lack of loyalty. It is no coincidence, the Bulls have lacked a competitive team since 1998. Whether it be the 48 head coaches they had in the past few seasons, or their shaky front office, the Bulls are a high-risk high reward team. Despite this, I have a feeling after these comments the Bulls will go out of their way to make Lebron feel loyal. Plus with the signing of Lebron, they could make a sign and trade with Luol Deng for a an above average free agent. In this case, the editor’s pick (or Stick’s Pick) would be Lebron to Chicago. If Lebron truly were honoring Jordan by changing his number from 23 to 6, then he would want to try to live up to his legacy in Chi town.
Okay, so there you have it, my Lebron Big Board. A little longer than I expected, but this is the BIGGEST Sports Story of the summer (I’m sorry World Cup fans but it is true). This should give most a general idea of the Lebron mega sweepstakes.