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Sports Illustrated's Ian Thomsen asked the question we all should be asking today: why should we definitively believe what we're hearing about LeBron James heading to play in Miami?
I've been hearing all year long is that James alone will make this decision. He will listen to advice, he will take account of the different offers and opinions, and in the end he will make his own choice. This is what I've been told for a long time and it was spelled out most eloquently in a recent column by the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Brian Windhorst, who is plugged into James' camp.
So when I read of unnamed sources saying that James is going to Miami, I wonder: Do they absolutely 100 percent know what he is going to say Thursday night?
It's a really good point. Thomsen makes a second good point later in the article: why would LeBron's handlers put together this television event, then leak the outcome to a few select reporters? That doesn't make much sense, does it?
This isn't to say all the reports of LeBron going to Miami are definitively false (leaks happen, y'know?), but we should exhibit some caution before believing them to be absolutely true.
The Miami Heat will make their salary-cap quandary a lot more palatable if they can somehow move Michael Beasley onto another team. The problem, though, is that the Toronto Raptors have little interest in taking back Beasley in a sign-and-trade for Chris Bosh.
They still have little interest, to be clear, but Miami is working to try to find another solution. According to Chad Ford and Marc Stein, they've begun discussing a complicated four-way trade with Charlotte and Houston that would send Beasley to the Bobcats.
The proposed deal, sources said, would send Beasley and Rockets forward Jared Jeffries to Charlotte, land Bobcats center Tyson Chandler in Houston and create sufficient cap space for Heat president Pat Riley to offer max-contract money to Wade, Bosh and James.
The Heat and Raptors engaged in discussions for several hours after Bosh and Dwyane Wade announced that they committing to Miami in a package about the various sign-and-trade options. Discussions were serious enough Wednesday night, according to two sources, that Heat officials told Beasley to start preparing to relocate.
One source with knowledge of Toronto's thinking, however, insists that the four-team trade - which would require Houston to send at least $3.1 million in salary to the Raptors -- is "not happening." Toronto continues to convey the message that it is a reluctant partner in any deal that makes Bosh's departure more lucrative.
It seems really, really hard to believe that Larry Brown of all coaches would be willing to take a chance on Beasley, but hey, stranger things have happened. Then again, this whole proposal feels like a pointless one for all teams (except Miami of course), so I'm really skeptical.
As we've said before, if LeBron James does go to Miami to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, that most likely means the Heat can only fill out their roster with veterans minimum contracts. That's what makes this report from FOX Sports' Jeff Goodman so confusing.
Source told FOXSports.com Miami Heat have offered Mike Miller 5-year deal worth 27-30 million with deadline tonight.
Miller has been told by Miami that the team is "confident" LeBron is coming. Miller could likely earn more money with New York Knicks.
How, exactly, does Miami have this salary-cap money to offer Miller this contract? Answer: they probably don't, at least not right now. There are two ways they might, though.
How much less money would they have to take? The salary cap is $58,044,000, and the Heat currently have Michael Beasley ($4.96 million), Mario Chalmers ($854,000) and the remnants of James Jones' partially-guaranteed contract ($1.9 million) on their payroll. Subtracting those players puts us at $50,371,371. Assuming Miller makes $5 million in year one (a guess), that puts us at $45,371,371. Divide that by three, and you get $15.1 million each for LeBron, Wade and Bosh. The first-year value of a maximum contract is $16.324 million, according to Larry Coon, so to make this work, all three players will have to give up $1.2 million per season.
That's not as much as I expected, but that's just to slot in Miller. To slot in more players, they'd obviously have to give up more.
This isn't exactly a surprise, but it's worth noting nonetheless.
Via Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald:
Via Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald:
With Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in the fold -- and the tantalizing possibility of LeBron James still to come -- the entire 2010-2011 season had sold out as of 11:15 a.m. Thursday.
Earlier in the morning, just a handful of lower-level season tickets were still available to the public at $6,000 a piece, according to the team's website.
Those were quickly snapped up, possibly by fans, possibly by brokers looking to cash in.
The question now, of course, is whether Heat fans will actually show up, especially if (heavens forbid) the team faces some injuries. Okay, fine, they'll probably show up. But will they wear all-white, like they did in the 2006 Playoffs? (Please, no). That's the real question here.
The Cavaliers were desperate to keep LeBron James before, but now it's getting ridiculous. According to Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, they're exploring a trade with Minnesota for Jonny Flynn.
Here's Windhorst's tweet (emphasis mine).
Sources: Cavs are in trade talks with Minnesota Timberwolves for PG Jonny Flynn. Flynn is represented by#LeBron's agent & LRMR.
Aha! Now we know the real truth. The Cavaliers have officially unleashed a game-changer in the LeBron sweepstakes! Clearly, this means he's staying home now.
The Chicago Bulls aren't officially out of the LeBron James sweepstakes until tonight, but it doesn't look like James is really considering them. As a last-ditch attempt to get back into the race, the Bulls signed Carlos Boozer yesterday. Now, Boozer is lobbying LeBron to join him.
Boozer was on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on WMVP-AM 1000 in Chicago earlier Thursday and said he's trying to reach out to LeBron. Via Chicago Breaking Sports:
"I'm going to text him again this morning," Boozer said. "If we get him, we could rival one of the best teams of all time and be able to put together championship after championship. If we don't get him, we'll compete against him and we'll bring it to him."
I too am surprised Chicago is totally out of it. Derrick Rose and Boozer are not Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, but the Bulls actually have supporting players in place like Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and Taj Gibson, whereas the Heat can only afford minimum contracts. Maybe this last-ditch pitch works. Who knows?
There are many NBA players who have more of a stake in LeBron James' decision that Chris Paul, so take this news however you please. Still, Paul is one of James' closest friends, and there remains a remote possibility the two could one day play together if Paul is traded away from the Hornets. His input matters, even if other players' input matters more.
Therefore, it's at least somewhat significant that Paul is reportedly telling LeBron to stay in Cleveland. Via Chris Broussard:
Chris Paul, one of James' best friends, has urged him to stay in Cleveland and let new Cavaliers coach Byron Scott coach him, according to sources. With such strong sentiment around him to not go to Miami, it's possible James could alter his decision.
Paul has long been a fan of Scott, going back to their days in New Orleans, so this isn't a huge surprise. But it's still another person trying to pull LeBron James in a different direction.
Ultimately, based on Broussard's article, it appears James' heart is in Cleveland, but his head is in Miami. If Paul's advice somehow finds its way into LeBron's head, it could change his mind.
It's understandable for Cavaliers fans to feel pretty bitter if LeBron James does end up leaving Cleveland to play in Miami. As well they should, of course. They lived and died with him (figuratively, of course) throughout his career, and they were hoping his legacy would be as the guy who saved a cursed sports city.
Therefore, if the move happens, SB Nation's Cavaliers blog Fear The Sword writes that it will tarnish LeBron's legacy forever.
Fairly or unfairly, LeBron's legacy is what is at stake, not merely winning or losing. That's what comes along with being the most hyped athlete ever to come out of high school. That's what comes along with exceeding those expectations. That's what comes along with having a nickname like King James.
Going to Miami, a team with a superstar in place already, can only take away from that legacy. Right now, LeBron is the greatest Cavalier of all time. Sure, not the legacy James is hoping for, but heading to Miami, where Wade is The Man, and Pat Riley gets all the credit and little blame, would not help LeBron escape the shadow of Jordan.
The argument here is that if LeBron goes to Miami, he'll become Scottie Pippen to Dwyane Wade's Michael Jordan. He'll be a sidekick, not a featured player. I'm not so sure about that, but Fear The Sword's post is a legitimate way for a Cavaliers' fan to express one's disgust with James if he does actually leave.
Thursday’s LeBron-a-thon will end with James announcing that he will join the superteam of Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, according to sources. Both ESPN’s Chris Broussard and Newsday’s Alan Hahn are reporting this.
All indications are that LeBron James is leaning toward signing with the Miami Heat on Thursday night, according to several sources with knowledge of the situation.
Barring a late change of heart, sources say James has decided to join fellow All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to form a potential NBA powerhouse.
And the latter:
Multiple sources are telling Newsday that LeBron James has decided to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. The new Big Three is here.
As our own Mike Prada explained on Wednesday, the only remaining issue should LeBron join Miami would be money. It seems impossible that Miami would be able to sign all three stars to max deals and still have enough cap space to fill out the rest of the roster. Although Wade did indicate on Wednesday that he would be open to taking a paycut. We may soon find out just how willing he is to do so.
With Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade joining forces in Miami, all the teams in the LeBron James sweepstakes are trying their hardest to find him a running mate. The best guy on the market to be that right now is Utah's Carlos Boozer, so it's no surprise that he's suddenly become a hot commodity.
According to ESPN's Chad Ford, the Bulls, Nets and Cavaliers are trying their hardest to convince Boozer to join their team, hoping that LeBron will follow. The Bulls and Nets can sign Boozer outright, though not for a maximum contract. The Cavaliers have to acquire Boozer via a sign and trade.
Cleveland's main sign-and-trade assets are young power forward J.J. Hickson and guard Delonte West, who has a non-guaranteed contract that keeps teams on the hook for just $500,000 of his $4.5 million salary if he's cut before August 3. They will need to throw in more salary to make the trade work, but they don't exactly have a ton of good contracts on their team to include.
(Of course, there's also the matter of Boozer returning to the same Cleveland franchise he left unfavorably several years ago, but hey, money talks).
UPDATE: And the Bulls win the Boozer battle, but all indications are that it won't be enough to lure LeBron to Chicago.
The LeBron James free agency special on ESPN Thursday night is officially happening, and it officially has a name — “The Decision”. DUN DUN DUN! It will air at 9 p.m. EDT, and yes, it’s going to be as overblown and ridiculous as you might imagine, starting with a special three-hour long SportsCenter leading up to “The Decision.”
More from a press release the Worldwide Leader put out on Wednesday:
ESPN’s Stuart Scott will host “The Decision,” and will be joined by ESPN NBA analysts Michael Wilbon and Jon Barry. Freelance reporter Jim Gray will conduct the first interview with James in which he announces his decision. Wilbon will also have an extensive interview with James.
ESPN’s 6 p.m. ET SportsCenter will expand to three hours leading into the hour-long “The Decision” at 9 p.m. Following “The Decision,” ESPN will televise an expanded SportsCenter from 10 p.m.-midnight (9 p.m. PT). SportsCenter’s coverage throughout the evening will provide news and information associated with the decision, an overview of the NBA free agency landscape, and a recap of the other sports news of the day.
And if you think we’re just being typical cynical blogger-types by calling this whole four-hour ordeal absurd, look at this image and then try not to despise this:
How does the news that Chris Bosh has opted to join Dwyane Wade in Miami, eschewing a potential sign-and-trade to Cleveland, affect where everybody's favorite Global Icon, LeBron James, lands? Well, if an anonymous team official from one of the franchises pursuing James is to be believed, it means James will either follow Bosh to Miami or re-sign with the Cavs, according to Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Throughout the melodrama that has been this summer's free agency, rumors have swirled that the trio of James, Wade and Bosh intended to join force in Miami and form a super-team. James was expected to be the first domino to fall in the line of NBA mega-free agents, but by preemptively committing to Miami, Bosh and Wade have effectively pressured James to do so as well. Aside from questions about whether jumping ship to Miami would "diminish the LeBron brand" by having to share the spotlight, the biggest obstacle for the proposed super-team would be that they'd only be able to add minimum contract players (in addition to their four second-round picks from this past year's draft) to their roster. Then again, they'd have LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh...it shouldn't be too hard to convince some ring-hungry vets to sign on as mercenaries for a year or two.
Beyond hometown loyalty, it's not clear what would entice James to remain in Cleveland. Indeed, after failing to convince Bosh to accept a trade to the Cavs, it's difficult to see how they could measurably improve their roster to compete in what figures to be an increasingly competitive Eastern Conference, with the Heat figuring to contend along with the Magic and Celtics.
Meanwhile, the ubiquitous Chris Broussard of ESPN (via Arash Markazi) disputes that the Heat and Cavs are the only remaining contenders for LeBron James' services, adding that the Bulls remain in the mix. According to Broussard, the Heat are the frontrunners for James at this point, with the Bulls the second favorites and the Cavs third.
ESPN got a major coup when they landed the right to broadcast LeBron James’ official announcement on Thursday. However the World Wide Leader had to agree to some fairly specific restrictions in order to do it.
First, ESPN does not know what the decision will be and won’t know before hand. The location also has not been released, but something tells me it will be in Bristol, CT where ESPN is located.
Secondly, ESPN is NOT allowed to sell advertising for the 1-hour Primetime event. Instead, LeBron’s marketing company – LRMR I suppose – can sell sponsorships with all proceeds going to the Boys and Girls Club of America.
Brian Windhorst is reporting that Bristol will not be the location, nor will any of the other cities that James might end up (or stay).
The plot thickens. Or doesn’t, depending on whether or not you care.
LeBron James will announce the team with which he will sign during a one-hour special on ESPN Thursday night, ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard has learned through independent sources.
ESPN would only confirm that active discussions for the special are ongoing. But sources tell Broussard that representatives for James contacted the network, proposing that James makes his announcement during a 9 p.m. ET special.
James has had talks with six teams so far in this free agency period, but we can all agree the Clippers have no chance:
James' plans still are a closely guarded secret. He visited with six teams -- the New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls -- last week at his business offices in downtown Cleveland and may have made up his mind already. But until he gives word, other teams are positioning themselves to make a run at the 6-foot-8, 260-pound All-Star.
This looks to be the inner younger LeBron getting his chance to announce his team of choice on national television since he did not get a chance to do the played out three hats on a table routine which includes at least two fake outs before picking his collegiate team of choice.
Does it -- i.e., where LeBron James lands in free agency -- all depend on what Chris Bosh does? Maybe. According to a report from ESPN's Chris Broussard on the Mike and Mike radio show (via SB Nation Cleveland), LeBron James wants to stay with his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers -- and he wants Chris Bosh to join him.
The capped out Cavs would have to work out a sign-and-trade for Bosh, but that likely wouldn't be too big an obstacle considering the collection of assets the Raptors would likely want, including Anderson Varejao, J.J. Hickson, and some expiring contracts/draft picks. Indeed, Broussard reports that the Raptors have told the Cavs that they would be willing to do a sign-and-trade with Cleveland for Bosh. The only question is whether Bosh would acquiesce to go to Cleveland.
Throughout the convoluted melodrama that is the Summer of 2010 free agency, sources have maintained Bosh has two priorities: getting the extra $30 million on his contract from doing a sign-and-trade, and playing with LeBron James, just not in Cleveland. Bosh apparently wants to "build his brand" in a big market and has so far refused overtures to go to Cleveland. As ESPN's Chad Ford explains:
Of course, Bosh could very well end up deciding that teaming with Dwyane Wade in Miami is preferable to pairing with LeBron James in Cleveland, as Mikhail Prokhorov expects. Then all bets would be off for where the putative Global Icon will end up.
Things have gotten very quiet on the LeBron James Sweepstakes front. He recently met with the Knicks but otherwise the meetings are done. With the decision up in the air, everyone is looking for any kind of news on which way Team LBJ is leaning. The problem might just be that those around LeBron are leaning…but in different directions. So says Plain Dealer’s Cavs beat writer Brian Windhorst.
Based on several people who have talked to LeBron in last 72 hours, he is giving impression he’s undecided after last week’s meetings.
He really likes Rose & Noah. But there’s lack if shooters on roster. Also it doesn’t sound like he’s exactly being welcomed by Rose.
Also, can confirm several reports of a rift between Wes Wesley & James camp. Wes was indeed pushing Chicago, I’m told.
And so we wait, just like we’ve been doing.
LeBron James is an NBA free agent and he might leave his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers.
What, you knew that already? You've heard that somewhere?
Of course you've heard.
LeBron James has a handful of NBA franchises in the palm of his hand, to say nothing of the sports media and millions of fans hanging on his every word. LeBron James is all anyone can think or talk about, and it's going to be that way as long as he remains a free agent on the open market.
Depending on your mood at the given time, it's either an excruciating instance of oversaturation, or a fascinating glimpse at a superstar with the power to shift the balance of power in an entire league. So how much longer can be love and/or hate this ordeal? Brian Windhorst, the media's preeminent LeBron James resource, reports:
Sources say LeBron plans to wait until after his three day Nike camp in Akron to announce his [free agency] decision. The camp ends Wednesday night.
So Thursday, then? That means he's announcing Thursday? Can we get a ballpark estimate on what time, Thursday? Is LeBron a morning person, or will announce closer to dinner time? Where will he announce? Will it be televised? Who will report it?
As for actual LeBron related news, the New York Knicks held a second meeting with LeBron James' agent, apparently to discuss the exact parameters of their salary cap situation in the wake of their max contract offer to Amare Stoudemire. The fun never stops!
LeBron James has not made a decision yet, or at least, he hasn't announced it. There are no concrete developments to report here. But LeBron's meetings with the Knicks and Cavaliers must be addressed, because reports indicate that they were completely absurd.
Before they talked about love and basketball with LeBron James, the Knicks opened their video presentation Thursday with a scene from a LeBron favorite. Suddenly James Gandolfini and Edie Falco were Tony and Carmela Soprano, maybe for the last time, and the look on LeBron's face said he was hoping this show would last an hour or three.
Tony hadn't been killed off by David Chase after all. He was wearing a beard and living with his wife under the cover of the witness protection program, and Tony was telling Carmela he had an important friend coming to town. A friend who needed a place to stay. A friend named LeBron James.
This... are you reading this? The Sopranos, one of the most popular shows in television history, famously ended with a question mark, leaving fans to wonder forever. Then Gandolfini comes back, recruits his on-screen wife, and films an epilogue SPECIFICALLY FOR LEBRON which is ABOUT LEBRON. Is this scene considered to be in canon with the rest of the show? It has to be, right?
We now know that Tony Soprano did not die in the diner that day. We have LeBron James to thank for this, and he hasn't even announced a decision yet. "A friend named LeBron James." I still can't get over how fan-fictiony that sounds.
On to non-television matters: here are reports describing the Cavs' meeting with LeBron -- oh, is this about television too? This is about television too. Nevermind. Here's a couple of tweets from Brian Windhorst on Saturday:
Sources say #Cavs showed LeBron a custom cartoon they created with James & his friends as characters that referenced many inside jokes.
Was done in Family Guy style, which is one of James' favorite shows. [...]
Apparently, the feeling shared by NBA suits is that the way to LeBron's heart is through his television. And maybe it is. Strangely, I'm sort of touched by these gestures. This isn't to say that the Knicks and Cavs can't make compelling arguments to claim LeBron, but both these teams are aware that the Bulls -- for the moment -- are considered the front-runners. Undeterred, they spare absolutely no effort, going as far as to produce TV shows for him. D'awwww.
To keep up with the LeBron James Free Agency Sweepstakes, follow along with these SB Nation blogs:
Forbes stunned the NBA world yesterday with a pretty crazy scoop, securing a copy of the Knicks presentation to LeBron James. The main selling point? LeBron could become richer in New York than in any other city.
The Knicks just finished pitching LeBron James. Their main selling point: You could make a billion dollars playing in New York. You can't earn anything close to that anywhere else.
To make the case, they commissioned a study from marketing consultant Interbrand that says LeBron could earn close to $1 billion over his lifetime in salary and endorsements if he makes Madison Square Garden his permanent home--their high-end estimate sees him earning as much as $2 billion. That outshines the estimated $700 million he'd likely earn in Cleveland, the $690 million in Chicago, and $600 million in Miami.
A copy of Interbrand's PowerPoint presentation can be found at that link. CBS Sports' Matt Moore breaks down each of the 15 slides here.
It's a pretty ingenious plan by the Knicks, and one they probably had to make. That said, there's also reason to be skeptical of Interbrand's findings. CNBC's Darren Rovell, for example, openly mocked the presentation in a series of tweets.
Knicks tell LeBron he can earn $1B+ by going to NY. What it proves? Pay a firm (InterBrand) enough $, they'll justify a #.
Key to the bogus InterBrand LeBron study? They ASSUME he'll play for the Knicks for the next 13 years.
The New York Times' Howard Beck adds this:
Also, study compares NY to Chi, Mia and Cleve, but makes no mention of what LeBron would make playing Newark/Brooklyn
LeBron James went through his first series of meetings on Thursday, sitting down with the Nets and Knicks. He'll move on to the Clippers, Heat, Bulls and Cavaliers in the next couple days.
But if you ask the Nets, they believe they made a good enough case to be the frontrunners in the race, as of July 1 of course. ESPN's Chad Ford spoke to a source close to the Nets who backed this up.
The New Jersey Nets were the first team to meet with LeBron James on Thursday morning. Owner Mikhail Prokhorov and part owner Jay-Z led the presentation. After the presentation was done, Jay-Z spent some time one-on-one with 'Bron before the Knicks arrived.
How did it go? A source close to the Nets said their meeting with LeBron was "tremendous". How tremendous? "Front runner tremendous."
Ford also reports that the Nets have an arrangement where they'd send away Kris Humphries to clear up room to also sign Chris Bosh if LeBron joins the team. Yowza.
Considering how much time LeBron James has probably thought about where he's going to play next year, it's not exactly a surprise that he wants to make a decision quickly. According to John Jackson of the Chicago Sun-Times, LeBron hopes to make up his mind by next Monday, July 5.
James has let teams know that he doesn't want to drag out this process and wants to make a decision by Monday.
This gives him just enough time to listen to teams formally make their pitches to him and prevents the whole saga from being dragged out, so it makes sense. I wish I could make a joke about LeBron upstaging July 4, but I can't. This makes too much sense.
When the Knicks meet with LeBron James on Thursday, they'll be offering the free agent a vision as bold as New York itself: Create your own dynasty.
A league source with understanding of New York's plans told SI.com that the Knicks will recruit the Cavaliers' two-time MVP with a grandiose vision of surrounding him with Hawks shooting guard Joe Johnson as well as an elite power forward -- Chris Bosh of the Raptors or Amar'e Stoudemire of the Suns -- to form a starring trio capable of contending for championships for years to come.
So basically, it's the exact same thing, except instead of Dwyane Wade, the Knicks are touting Joe Johnson as a sidekick. Doesn't sound very convincing to me.
How are the Knicks trying to sell it?
The Knicks have decided to target Johnson instead of Wade because of concerns that Wade and James are too similar in style and could clash over control of the ball, according to the source. Though 6-foot-7 Johnson is a four-time All-Star who has led Atlanta to 100 wins over the last two seasons, he is viewed as a complementary player who is capable of joining with James and other stars in a constructive way.
The Knicks will enhance the offer by pointing out the numerous off-court opportunities available to star athletes in the world's largest media market, enabling the players to ultimately make more money in New York than each could on a max contract in other NBA cities.
There are two problems with this. One, Johnson is much worse than Wade, and dominated the ball just as much on a Hawks team that had a much more talented supporting cast than Wade's Heat. Two, while New York may offer endorsement opportunities, Miami offers no state income tax and, well, Miami. Considering it's 2010, and you can market yourself from anywhere, that has to be worth more to LeBron.
So yeah. It's an admirable effort you're making, New York, but that doesn't mean it'll actually work.
The Knicks couldn't find a way to bring LeBron James to New York, so they'll settle for the next best thing - bringing their owner as one of the many people that will meet with LeBron in Ohio.
Marc Berman of the New York Post reports:
Owner James Dolan decided yesterday to join the Knicks' recruiting team in northeast Ohio on Thursday as the club delivers its first presentation to free agent LeBron James, The Post has learned.
The King of Cablevision apparently wants to look King James in the eye to assure him of the financial commitment he has always made to the franchise, and that he has never spared any expense in trying to restore the Knicks back to greatness.
The Nets' recruiting team will also reportedly include Mikhail Prokhorov and Jay-Z.
As SBN Chicago (among other networks) has reported, LeBron James is hosting six different franchises in Akron to help him decide on a free agency destination.
The New Tork Times, however, quotes an unnamed NBA executive who believes the proceedings are little more than a formality:
The executive, who did not want to be identified discussing a player who is not yet a free agent, said he had gathered from discussions with his fellow N.B.A. executives that James was strongly leaning toward joining the Bulls in tandem with another free agent, Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors.
"I think it’s a done deal," the executive said.
He said he thought James was going ahead with the meetings in Ohio "to be respectful to all these teams who jumped through these hoops," a reference to the clubs, like the Knicks, who traded reasonably talented players like Jamal Crawford the last two seasons in an effort to open up as much salary-cap space as possible. But if James and Bosh are indeed going to Chicago, moves like the ones the Knicks made will have been done at least partly in vain.
As the Times notes, even after the Bulls' unceremonious dumping of Kirk Hinrich and his $9 million salary, the Bulls still don't have enough cap space to take on both Bosh and James. The solution may be in a sign-and-trade, where the Bulls would send the suddenly expendable Luol Deng to Toronto or Cleveland. That'll take some finagling with salaries, as Deng's $11.4 million salary isn't close enough to James' or Bosh's expected salary to make the trade work. There are ways around this, though--usually by signing B-list free agents as chess pieces.
Of course, Bosh's agent Henry Thomas announced an immediate denial of the reports, telling NBA.com that they were "completely untrue" and that Bosh "hasn't decided anything." But Thomas is still working on delivering a maximum salary for his client, so regardless of whether the reports are true, it's in Thomas's and Bosh's best interests to deny, deny, deny--even if it's just by pretending there's no difference between "leaning" and "deciding."
UPDATE: Nike is reportedly not actually planning to do this, according to Darren Rovell.
Nike: We will NOT be making LeBron shoe for ANY free agent market visit
It remains unclear whether Sam Amick's source was wrong or whether Nike scrapped the project.
You almost made me sympathize with you, LeBron. After the whole fallout from your playoff loss, during which people like Adrian Wojnarowski took their turns bashing you over the head with ad homenum attacks, I was very close to (gasp) actually feeling sorry for you. For a Wizards fan, that's a huge step.
But then, you had to go out and plan something like this to "celebrate" your free agency. If Fanhouse's Sam Amick's report is true, then I will never ever have any sympathy for any negative attention you get. Is that too harsh? Not after reading what you're planning on doing.
James, according to the source, is in discussions with Nike to create a new shoe for every visit along his free agent path starting July 1. The shoes would have the date of the visit printed, with James already having scripted his itinerary for the Free Agency Tour 2010.
The source insists that he'll head for New York first to visit with the Knicks, and then spend time with the Nets. Chicago will be next, with the Bulls hoping he wants to follow in the footsteps of Michael Jordan and become the Windy City's beloved star. Depending on the level of sustained public interest and the discussions with the teams in the respective cities, James will decide at that point whether to continue on to Miami and possibly Los Angeles to see the Clippers.
That final stop would be Hollywood style in every way, with James simply putting on a show intended to create buzz in yet another big city and maintain the mystery of where he will go. And for what it's worth, the source expects James to return to the Cavaliers by the time the circus comes to an end.
Seriously, dude? Sometimes, I wonder who is advising you. Sure, this whole free agent tour will bring in money and help Nike out a lot. That's nice. But considering the way you've been criticized over the past month for caring more about attention than winning, this doesn't seem like the smartest PR move in the world, to say the least.
(Also, why no DC? Miss Cleo said you'd sign here, and she's always right!).
Lest you somehow thought Sacramento's tongue-in-cheek "LeBron Song" would be the last goofy pleading done to court LeBron James, mayor Michael Bloomberg and the folks behind the official New York City website have cobbled together a page dedicated to the efforts to bring King James to the Big Apple.
Titled C'MON LEBRON, the page includes Bloomberg in a YouTube video beseeching the star to throw off the shackles of a mid-sized metropolis and come play for the biggest market in the country. It being New York, the video is also full of grandiose language and mentions about how LeBron will be able to exhibit his skills on the biggest stage in the world.
"Don't just make New York City history. Make world history."
Because world history is at once distinguishable from New York history but can still only be made in New York. Gotcha.
Visitors to the site can show their support of New York's official begging by adding commentary on Facebook, Twitter or through downloading the C'mon LeBron toolkit, which includes an official logo for emblazoning onto shirts and the like. So, in the off chance you happen upon LeBron James on the street, he will know you mean business about where he accepts his max contract.
Earlier on Tuesday, news broke that LeBron James would be ending his offseason silence in an interview with CNN's Larry King, set to air Friday night. This was big and important news because ... well, we're not exactly sure why. To say that King's relevance has slipped a bit in the recent years is an understatement on par with saying a skateboard is an important part of skateboarding.
Anyways, if you just cannot wait until Friday to hear a couple of Kings go back-and-forth, Cleveland Plain Dealer's Brian Windhorst has been tweeting a sneak peek of sorts. Here's a collection of what's in store:
LeBron to King on FA meeting: It will be fun to get all the free agents together and...figure out a way how we can make the league better
More LeBron with King: "We both, myself and Mike Brown, didn't accomplish what we wanted to, and that was the NBA championship."
LeBron: "It's not always about the city. It's about winning."
LeBron: "If u put me and Bosh on the same team, if you put me and Wade on the same team...a lot of teams would be much better." [ed. note: What?]
LeBron: "As far as saving the city economically, I can't get 2 involved. I can't let that be a decision of mine or what I do with my future.
LeBron on the free agent crop: "I am the ringleader."
LeBron on Clippers: "Some really nice, solid pieces that, u know, if they add a free agent...it could be a really good team."
LeBron on FA decision: "I'm far from close..I've thought about it, but I haven't began to strategize exactly."
And then, finally:
Based on transcipt, Larry King put "ringleader" in LeBron's mouth. 140 characters too small for this stuff. Going to stop now.
Hey-oooooo! Talk about a story made for the headline writers. In fact, maybe that's the only reason LeBron "King" James decided to be interview on Larry King this Friday. Or maybe that's the only reason Larry King wanted to interview him. They've got similar names, see.
In any case, this Friday, we can look forward to the
best player in basketball reigning MVP answering hard-hitting questions from one of the media's most grizzled interview vets:
KING: Do you lean at all toward the place you know the best? I mean do they have an edge going in...
JAMES: Oh, absolutely.
KING: ...your home team?
JAMES: Absolutely. Because, you know, this city, these fans, I mean, have given me a lot in these seven years. And, you know, for me, it's comfortable. So I've got a lot of memories here. And - and so it does have an edge.
For Larry King, this represents a tacit admission to his show's waning relevance. There was a time when "Larry King Live" tackled the most important issues of the day. But now, for "issues of the day," we've got 1,000 different options to choose from, and King's no longer the only interview that matters. So why not go for a splash, tackling the biggest story in sports this summer? Good for him.
As for LeBron, it depends on your perspective. This either confirms his narcissism—traditionally, free agents wait until the playoffs are over to talk openly about free agency—or proves his unmatched crossover appeal—sneer at King's dwindling profile if you want, but "Larry King Live" is still a benchmark for any celebrity icon. I'd lean to the former perspective, with a little dash of "He still doesn't get it."
If I were LeBron James, I'd be brooding right now, watching Kobe reaffirm his preeminence over the NBA, while punchlines linger from all the jokes at "King" James' expense a few weeks ago. But, see... I'm not LeBron James. None of us are. We'd all be better off if we stopped judging him as if we were walking in his ugly-ass signature Nikes.
From afar, though, we can say this much: LeBron James has shown over and over that for LeBron, these "celebrity" benchmarks hold equal interest to those of the basketball court. And that's fine.
But just as Larry King's decision to invite LeBron onto his show demonstrates shifting priorities, LeBron's decision to accept hints that his might never change. We can't really judge either one, except to say... Maybe neither man is as important as we once thought they were.
For a second, imagine a scenario where you are a teenager. You, like most teenagers, are attracted to teenagers of the opposite sex. Because said statement is so obvious, you don't see any problem with informing your parents that you are attracted to teenagers of the opposite sex. Unfortunately, your parents are really uptight and decide to ground you for even mentioning that to them.
Sounds ridiculous, right? Well, it's not really far off from what's happening right now with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. In an interview with CNNMoney.com, Cuban was asked about LeBron James and said this.
"Come July 1st, yeah, of course, anybody would be interested in LeBron James, and if he leaves via free agency, then it's going to be tough," Cuban said. "If he does like I'm guessing, hoping he will, which is say, 'I'm not going to leave the Cavs high and dry,' if he decides to leave -- there's still a better chance he stays -- then he'll try to force a sign-and-trade, and that gives us a chance."
In other words: "Yes, I would like to get the best player in basketball if he decides to leave his team, and I think we could maybe possibly have a chance to get him." To extend the analogy, it's like a teenage male telling his parents, "Yes, I would like to date that girl Jennifer, and if she leaves her boyfriend for whatever reason, I think she might like me."
But heavens forbid, there can be no tampering with LeBron James! Nevermind that the Knicks and several other teams have been talking about signing LeBron for two years. Nevermind that the subtext is completely obvious at this point. No, the NBA must crack down on people mentioning LeBron James' name when asked! And so, they're considering punishing Cuban and the Mavericks for his statements, according to the Dallas Morning News.
A spokesman for the league said a review of the situation is underway. The NBA has a tampering rule that can result in a fine of up to $1 million and a loss of draft picks or other assets. But whether or not stating that everybody will be interested in James constitutes tampering is debatable.
Actually, it's not debatable. It's not tampering. Here's hoping the NBA realizes that.
For all intents and purposes, the NBA Lottery was supposed to be the first big domino to fall in determining where LeBron James ends up this summer. As Bethlehem Shoals of Fanhouse wrote a few days ago:
At the risk of hyperbole, or bestowing god-like powers upon an untested 19 year-old college freshman, John Wall could very well help decide who goes where this summer. That starts at the top, with LeBron James himself -- the player who has taken the greatest interest in Wall. Whether or not the ex-Wildcat is actually going to sign with LeBron's marketing agency LRMR, the fact remains that the two have been sniffing each other out for a minute now. James recognizes how good Wall could be, as both a player and a commodity, and sees the advantages of some sort of partnership, mentorship, or just plain relationship.
Here's the why-the-lottery-really-matters part: Since this is the summer of superstar alliances, James -- and possibly others -- are likely to see Wall more as a peer than a hot-shot rookie. If they're building dynasties here, a point guard like Wall is a key piece in a year or two. Rajon Rondo, anyone? That's not to say that Wall decides his destiny, or anyone else's. But if James or someone else is interested in playing with Wall, it's safe to assume that these heralded "discussions" we've heard so much about will not freeze out Wall or his people.
But then, a funny thing happened: the Wizards, a team that LeBron has hated for years, won the John Wall derby. Suddenly, the picture isn't any more settled at all. The Nets, who would have been a very interesting situation if they had gotten John Wall, fell to third. So much for them, right?
Well, not exactly. Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, who knows LeBron better than any reporter, came out with this story on the day after the lottery. In it, he made the point that the relationship between Wall and LeBron is probably overstated.
The Nets are one of the handful of teams James is expected to consider when he becomes a free agent in July. James also has a standing relationship with Kentucky guard John Wall, who is the favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick. There was speculation that had the Nets, which had a 25 percent chance of winning, landed the No. 1 pick, it would have increased James' chances of signing with New Jersey.
However, that point of view may have been outdated. A central reason James befriended Wall over the past two years, it is believed, is to recruit him to his agent and his Cleveland-based marketing firm as a package deal. But several weeks ago, Wall passed on signing with James' groups and instead signed with Los Angeles-based agent Dan Fegan.
So, Nets fans, this is your silver lining. Obviously, Wall's talent trumps anyone's in this draft, but at the very least, his relationship with LeBron is overstated. You still have cap room, a great new owner and young talent. You're still in the race.
As for the Wizards - Windhorst writes that their fans shouldn't get their hopes up, even with Wall in tow.
The Wizards have enough salary-cap space to offer James a maximum contract, a provision that was made possible when the Wizards traded Antawn Jamison to the Cavs last winter. But James, who has a harsh relationship with the Washington franchise, isn't believed to have Washington on his short list.
One of the reasons might be the unsure future of Wizards star Gilbert Arenas, who has been injured or suspended for the majority of the past three seasons. Arenas and Wall play the same position.
So there you have it. In the end, nothing really changed.
Lebron James recently contacted Eddy Curry about working out together at some point this summer, according to the New York Daily News. As the article points out, Curry might not be the best ambassador for the New York Knicks.
But Curry's involvement in the Knicks' recruitment of James is interesting since the veteran center has had a famous falling-out with head coach Mike D'Antoni, which began as far back as D'Antoni's first practice with the Knicks....If James were to ask Curry about D'Antoni, chances are that Curry would not provide a glowing report. Several Knicks complained during the season about D'Antoni's lack of communication over their roles and status.
While there is no reason to believe the report is false, its almost equally hard to believe it is true. The idea that Lebron James, one of the greatest physical specimens in the history of the NBA, would want to share the gym with Eddy Curry, who has eaten himself out of relevancy twice during his career, seems like a joke awaiting a punchline.
In his past two seasons with the Knicks, Eddy Curry has appeared in a total of 10 games, scoring 31 points across 73 largely unspectacular minutes. For his contribution, the team has payed Curry about $20 million. However I'm sure that all would be forgiven if Curry could have some positive impact, regardless of how small, in the recruitment that ultimately saw James sign with the Knicks.
In the past few years, every move the New York Knicks have made has had one singular purpose; to lure Lebron James to Gotham in the Summer of 2010. It must terrify New York fans to know that Eddy Curry will have some level influence, in how Lebron views the franchise when weighing his free-agency options.
The early favorite in the LeBron James sweepstakes appears to be the Chicago Bulls, according to a bunch of people who sort of know, but don't really know. Don't worry, I'm not going to mock that fact. Frankly, everyone except LeBron himself can be classified as someone who sort of knows what's going on, but doesn't really know.
Here's what I will mock, though: people making such a big deal about a phone call. Look, in today's NBA, everyone knows everyone. I've never seen an NBA stars' cellphone, nor do I want to, but my guess is there are a zillion other NBA players programmed into it (along with all of their "mistresses," but I digress). I also think they call each other all the time and talk about how much they want to play with each other. It's a way to shoot the breeze, so to speak.
So when I saw this report, I laughed. ZOMG! JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS!
Shortly after Cleveland was eliminated by Boston in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, LeBron James placed a call to Bulls guard Derrick Rose.
What did they talk about?
Word is, James said he likes Rose's game, likes his team and would welcome the chance to play together.
HE'S GOING TO CHICAGO, EVERYONE! BOOK IT!
Here's my question - who wouldn't like Derrick Rose's game? Who wouldn't want to play with him? Is there anyone? And sure, LeBron would love to play with Rose, but he might also love playing with Brook Lopez, Devin Harris, Blake Griffin, Dwyane Wade and/or whatever max free agent he can convince to join the Knicks with him. (By the way, notice I didn't put any Cavs players in there. See what I just did?).
Anyway, it could mean something, but it probably doesn't. I make phone calls to friends all the time and talk about how cool it'd be to move out of DC and live where they live. They flip it around and say how cool it'd be to move to DC to live near me. That doesn't mean either of us will actually make the move. It's just a way to catch up with old friends. So relax everyone.
I realize that nobody knows what makes LeBron James tick. We've heard arguments that all he cares about is winning. We've heard arguments that he wants to be a global icon. We've heard arguments that he's insanely loyal to his friends and doesn't want to disappoint them. We've heard arguments that he wants to create his own "legacy," more than anything. We've heard arguments that he just wants to relive his high school career and will go to whatever team lets him do that.
Okay, I'm kidding on the last one. Or am I? I believe Marc Berman of the New York Post is being serious when he writes this.
If the Knicks are auditioning the desperately needed point guard position, they could do worse than offering a summer-league roster spot to one of LeBron James' closest buddies, Dru Joyce III. The Knicks' summer league team competes in July in Las Vegas.
Joyce, who played in Poland last season, was the rock on James' high-school team at St. Vincent-St. Mary in Akron. In James' book on his high school team, "Shooting Stars," James calls Joyce "a brother" and King James nicknamed him "The General."
The Knicks, who have no point guards on their roster other than Toney Douglas, are willing to pull out all the stops for James and probably would be willing to offer Joyce even a training-camp invitation - if that's what it would take.
In case you're wondering, Joyce currently plays for Anwil Wloclawek in Poland, a team that's actually about to compete in the Polish league finals. He averages 8.3 points and 3.6 assists in about 20 minutes per game for them off the bench. That's right, he doesn't even start. For a Polish team.
I'd mock this further, but at the same time, nobody knows how LeBron works. Maybe this actually will make a difference. Who knows? ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.
(Sorry, I know that joke is overused. Carry on).
In sports, you need hope. Without hope, there's really no point in staying loyal to teams who always let you down. Like the Clippers. (Sorry, Clippers fans, but it's true).
Because let's face it, is there any reason LeBron James should sign with the Clippers? Sure, it's LA, and yes, they have the makings of a decent young core with Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon. But there's also Baron Davis, Clippers history and playing in the same city as Kobe Bryant to be considered. Oh, and Donald Sterling. LeBron would LOVE playing for that guy, right? Uh ... yeah.
But that won't stop Clippers fans from having hope. So much hope that they're going to try to lure LeBron to the Clippers themselves. The CBS Los Angeles affiliate is reporting that Clippers fans will hold a "parade" near the Staples Center on March 27 at 3 p.m. to try to convince LeBron to join their team.
Fans of the Clippers have planned a march around Staples Center at 3pm on May 27 at L.A. Live to "Bring Lebron to the L.A. Clippers."
Lebron James in an unrestricted free agent and the Clippers are one of the teams that has room under the NBA salary cap to sign the superstar.
Predictably, the parade is being organized by Clipper Darrell, the famous superfan of the league's most tortured franchise. He's trying to rally support on Twitter, which, I've been told, is the way to go in today's Internet age. Darrell's enthusiasm is a far cry from his despair a month earlier, when he claimed he was "retiring" from being a Clippers fan. Like I said, hope is a wonderful thing.
(This is the part where I should be leaving you with a photoshop of LeBron in a Clippers jersey, but screw that, I'm not making the effort. That meme has officially run it's course).
It was only a matter of time until the city of Cleveland made their pitch to LeBron James. I just didn't expect it to come like this.
We are LeBron, indeed. That's all I got.
Normally, when reporters ask a player about someone else's free agent plans, they give vanilla answers that don't really reveal much of anything. Mostly, that's because they don't know and/or don't really care. But Kevin Garnett is no ordinary athlete. As we've seen, he's not afraid to speak his mind, even if what comes out is completely incoherent.
Garnett was asked about LeBron's impending free agency last night, and his answer was very interesting, as noted by CBS Sportsline's Ken Berger.
"Loyalty is something that hurts you at times, because you can't get youth back. I can honestly say that if I could go back and do my situation over, knowing what I know now with this organization, I'd have done it a little sooner."
Obviously, Garnett is speaking from experience. He spent years toiling on mediocre Minnesota teams with terrible supporting casts, and didn't ask out for many, many years. So maybe he's deflecting a question about LeBron by talking about himself.
Or maybe he's trying to tell LeBron that it might be time to leave Cleveland. There's a legitimate argument to be made that, like Garnett, LeBron hasn't received the kind of help he needs to get to the top. Even though individuals make a huge difference in the NBA, it still is a team game. Garnett wasted many of his prime years trying to carry a Minnesota team that just didn't have the pieces needed to win. You could argue LeBron has done the same for the last three years. So maybe Garnett is telling him that re-signing with Cleveland just for loyalty's sake is the wrong way to go.
At the end of the game, the cameras caught Garnett whispering in LeBron's ear as they were shaking hands. You have to wonder what Garnett was telling him. If it was anything like what Garnett told reporters, it certainly makes for interesting discussion.
NBA fans who read a lot of NBA stuff on the Internet have come to expect the requisite over-the-top-but-probably-somewhat-true commentaries from Yahoo! Sports' lead NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski. It's his shtick, he's good at it, and while they're definitely full of logical leaps and ridiculous assertions, they at least do a great job of setting the tone of how NBA news is consumed. This may or may not be a good thing.
Anyway, over the past couple days, Wojnarowski has predictably teed off on LeBron James. First, there was this commentary after Game 5, which began with the ominous "This isn't important enough for LeBron James" line. Then, after Game 6, Wojnarowski somehow took it one step further, saying that LeBron "finally wins the one title he always wanted: free agent."
Together, [LeBron and his team] are going to hold the NBA hostage. They're going to flush out a thousand scenarios, manipulate front-office decisions in Cleveland, New York, Chicago and beyond. Kentucky's John Calipari is along for the ride, working with agent Leon Rose and middleman William Wesley, and all hell promises to break out now.
Together, these narcissists will manufacture a drama that will undermine the conference and NBA Finals, the NBA draft and Fourth of July parades in small towns and big cities across America.
The full column is here. In it, Wojanrowski writes that LeBron:
And so it begins. LeBron James' Cavaliers got knocked out of the playoffs yesterday, exactly 49 days before July 1, the first day free agents can negotiate with other teams. Forty nine days of Brett Favre-like speculation awaits.
That speculation began immediately following last night's game, as three NBA GMs told ESPN's Chad Ford that they believe the Chicago Bulls are the favorites for LeBron this summer.
In the space of five minutes I heard from three NBA GMs via text, e-mail and phone. All three said that based on the information they have, they believe LeBron will leave the Cavs.
More surprisingly, all of them said they believe the destination will be the Chicago Bulls. Two said they believe that John Calipari will be the Bulls' new head coach.
Calipari essentially inserted himself into this story by sitting courtside at Game 5 in Cleveland.
If LeBron were to leave for the Bulls, he would join a core that includes Calipari's former college star Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and possibly Luol Deng, though one GM said the Bulls would look to sign and trade Deng away if it meant bringing in James.
If LeBron James were to make a list of 50 people he'd invite to an exclusive party where he would announce his decision on where to sign this summer, it's possible no sportswriters would make the cut. But if there were any sportswriters on the list, Buzz Bissinger would probably be the first. Well, either him or the Cleveland Plain-Dealer's Brian Windhorst.
Bissinger, the author of a book called 'LeBron's Dream Team' which detailed the journeys of LeBron and his four best friends, knows LeBron more than most. So naturally, someone was going to ask him about LeBron's plans this summer. That someone was Hoops Addict's Ryan McNeil, and while Bissinger admitted he didn't have any inside information, his gut tells him LeBron is leaving Cleveland.
I am not privy to any special information, but my gut tells me he will leave the Cavaliers whether they win the NBA championship or not. He has aspirations beyond basketball. He wants to be a billion dollar athlete. He likes challenges and bright lights. There is nothing like New York and the goal of making the Knicks champions again is an incredible one. So I say he goes to the Knicks, IF THEY GET THE RIGHT SUPPORTING CAST. And as you know that's a big "if" when it comes to the Knicks. LeBron would own New York in a way that no athlete has ever owned it, except maybe for Reggie Jackson after game six of the 1977 World Series when he hit three home runs, and as we know the love affair did not last forever. It would be exciting as hell to watch and I think LeBron would luxuriate in it. But as you say he also loves Ohio, so it is going to be a very difficult decision and I don't think he has come close to making it yet. And remember, the most important value in LeBron's life is loyalty. Still, I say he goes.
I'm sure several blogs will disagree with Bissinger's statement. When they do, it'll be very interesting to see how he responds. Maybe it'll be different than last time.
When I first read this article, I classified it as your typical Frank Isola silliness that has become common when he writes about LeBron James. Isola takes some random Cleveland fan's tweet to him and jumps to the conclusion that all Cleveland fans are awful people, essentially. "In Cleveland," Isola writes, "they are either in denial over the idea that LeBron could be on his way out, or smug in their belief that he would never leave Ohio behind for New York."
(Or, more accurately, Isola is the smug one for assuming LeBron-to-NY is going to happen. But I digress).
But that's just the story. Take a closer look at the permalink.
Real subtle, New York Daily News. Real subtle. It wasn't enough for you to sit there and watch New York Magazine have a whole section on why LeBron should be a Knick, or ESPN open its New York site with this blatant LeBron photoshop job. No, you had to go viral with your sales pitch to LeBron James. You had to mess with the permalink. Bravo, guys.
For your efforts, we will deliver Joe Johnson and Carlos Boozer to your team.
UPDATE: Isola himself tells SB Nation that the permalink was the headline ("Go To Hell? Isn't It Just Like Cleveland?") and subhead ("C'mon Dude, Ditch That Dump!") in today's print edition of the New York Daily News, which we later confirmed. Apparently, the permalink is automatically generated by the print headline unless someone manually overrides it.
In other words, that headline is out there in print. Wow.
Forget all the usual guesses about where LeBron James should go play this summer. How about something ... original? How about Charlotte? Take it away, William C. Rhoden!
Most athletes are destined to be overtaken by the next new thing - unless they become Babe Ruth, Joe Louis, Jackie Robinson or Ali. The only way to achieve such stature is to do something bold and timeless, like taking an unpopular stand or making an unpopular move. For you, LeBron, that would be leaving Cleveland to join forces with Jordan in Charlotte. Jordan wins his first N.B.A. championship as an owner, you win your first as a player. Then another. And another.
Well, it would be unpopular, so I guess Rhoden has that going for him. But original? Pfft ... we can do better. Here are some places LeBron really should be considering this summer.
Boston: Speaking of following in the footsteps of legends - why not Boston? Larry Bird? Bill Russell? Red Auerbach? LeBron would become the next great sports hero in the greatest sports town in the world. NO ONE DENIES THIS!
Charlotte: Because of MJ.
Chicago: Because of MJ.
Cleveland: It's not Detroit!
Dallas: LeBron and Mark Cuban would be a match made in heaven, and I could think of no better stage for LeBron to play than in Cowboys Stadium.
Denver: LeBron could totally become the first player-coach since Russell here. I mean, come on, Denver's coaches don't even run anything anyway.
Detroit: LeBron's presence would bring Pistons fans back to the games and singlehandily restore the crippled Detroit economy. Then, LeBron could become a world hero!
Golden State: New owner, great fanbase, new energy - what better place to go to be beloved?
Houston: What better way to become the next big thing in China than to team up with China's most popular athlete?
Indiana: It's basketball heaven in Indiana, don't you remember? If LeBron goes to Indiana, he can restore that proud tradition.
LA Clippers: It's LA, he'll get to be the rival to Kobe Bryant and the Clippers will literally let him do anything he wants.
LA Lakers: It's LA, he'll get to play with Kobe and Phil Jackson, and the Lakers will win the next ten titles.
Memphis: The Grizzlies will lose Rudy Gay, which clears the way for LeBron to sign there and play with O.J. Mayo, a guy who I'm sure would get along well with LeBron.
Miami: Come on now. D-Wade. South Beach. No state income tax. It's a no-brainer.
Milwaukee: Uhh ... nevermind, I got nothing here.
Minnesota: LeBron could convince Ricky Rubio to come and prove to everyone that he can play with an elite pass-first point guard.
New Jersey: He'll get to play for Mikhail Prokhorov, a young core that includes an elite center and several promising young players and in a market that's basically New York. It's everything New York offers, but with what likely would be a better team.
New Orleans: LeBron could rescue Chris Paul's career, convince the team to open their checkbooks and revitalize a town that's been so beaten down in recent years.
New York: This goes without saying.
Oklahoma City: Could you imagine LeBron and Kevin Durant as teammates?
Orlando: No state income tax and Dwight Howard makes this an attractive spot. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
Philadelphia: Here's a city that needs a star, and LeBron would be that star to follow in the footsteps of Dr. J, Moses, Barkley and Iverson.
Phoenix: Beautiful weather, Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire and a top-notch training staff that'll keep him healthy.
Portland: The best fans in basketball combined with several great young pieces and a billionare owner.
Sacramento: Just imagine the devastating basketball experiment of putting LeBron with the guy once called the "LeBron of point guards."
San Antonio: A winning organization with a great coach and the ultimate team player in Tim Duncan. LeBron wants to win, doesn't he?
Seattle: LeBron could pick four high school prep stars from Seattle, start playing in a semi-pro league and eventually create enough momentum where the NBA would have no choice but to let Seattle get it's team back. Then, LeBron will have really created his own legacy.
Toronto: It's north of the border, but pro athletes love it there. Plus, Chris Bosh.
Utah: They have crazy fans that would love LeBron even more unconditionally than Cleveland fans, if that's possible.
Washington: He'll get to hang out with President Obama, the only other person who might be more famous than him.
You're welcome, newspaper columnists. I've just given you your hook for your next original "Where will LeBron James go this summer" column.
Normally, I don't pay much attention to any somewhat declarative statement from a reporter about where LeBron James ends up this summer, because LeBron is an expert in the art of sending mixed signals. But Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer is different. Windhorst has been covering LeBron since high school and is the one reporter who really knows what's going on with LeBron. He's like Ahmad Rashad with Michael Jordan, except with much more journalistic integrity.
So when Windhorst writes an article saying that all signs right now point to LeBron re-signing with the Cavaliers, it means something. Windhorst did what he could to qualify his statements, saying that a lot can change between now and the end of the season, but he also explicitly wrote that LeBron is supposedly more committed to re-signing with the Cavaliers than ever before.
After being mostly neutral and downright noncommittal for some time, those closest to James have been altering their view recently. The vibe being sent out from James' camp -- whether it is private conversations or discussions about new business or plans for the near future -- is that James currently is leaning strongly toward re-signing with the Cavs.
That may sound vague and, as always, it continues to be fragile. Yet there is no denying the gradual shift within James' circle and, it is assumed, by James himself.
James has declined to talk publicly about free agency since November. But as one source said, "I have never been so sure that he's going to stay in Cleveland than I am right now."
Now, I'm sure a lot of you will jump on Windhorst for fueling the speculation. Frank Isola of the New York Daily News did, submitting this really odd blog post filled with some not-so-subtle digs at Windhorst. (For the record, Windhorst took the high road, saying Isola was just "having some fun on his blog"). But here's the thing: how else is Windhorst or anyone supposed to get this information? LeBron's not going to say anything on the record, and neither will the Cavs, Knicks, Nets, Clippers or anyone else. The only way to cover this story and get some real important information out to readers is to do exactly what Windhorst did. Try to talk to people in LeBron's circle, quote them anonymously so you can keep talking to them, and throw in the necessary qualifiers to make clear that this is just the "vibe" at the time.
I happen to think talk of this summer is tiring when the playoffs are shaping up to be spectacular, but there's no denying the LeBron story is a big one for fans. Kudos to Windhorst for writing about it in a insightful, enlightening way.
Carlos Boozer has never been shy about saying how much he'd love to play for other teams. Over the summer, he went on a Chicago radio station and talked about how it would be great to play for the Bulls. Now, he's talking up the Knicks, as told by the New York Post.
But of course, the subject of LeBron James came up, and despite Boozer's interest in the Knicks, he doesn't see LeBron joining him.
"I think LeBron's going to stay," Boozer said before scoring 26 points on 11-of-16 shooting with 14 rebounds in Utah's 103-98 victory last night over the Knicks at EnergySolutions Arena.
"That's my gut. They're doing everything they can to build him a championship. His biggest thing is winning a ring. I think his best chance to win a ring is probably where he's at."
Boozer doesn't exactly know LeBron well, so this quote by itself isn't all that significant. However, the fact that Boozer would still go to New York even if LeBron wasn't there is significant, in the sense that it confirms all the stereotypes about Carlos Boozer. Remember, this is the same guy that reneged on a deal with a blind owner (Cleveland's Gordon Gund) to sign for more money with the Jazz, even though staying in Cleveland would have meant ... playing with LeBron.
Also, Boozer's quotes about Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni are pretty wild.
"I love D'Antoni, he's the dope," Boozer said. "Spending time with him in the Olympics, his offensive mindset is unbelievable. He's got the best plays I've ever been around -- on a whim. It's like rappers when they come out on the top of the dome with quotes. He's got plays in the back of his head with plays for that moment."
Somewhere, some Knicks intern is copying that quote and putting it in a folder to present to LeBron when Knicks management meets with him for the first time this summer.
Knicks fans desperately cling to the hope that someone, anyone, will want to join their team in the next few years to save them from the misery of this past decade. They tell themselves stories of how everyone wants to play in the Big Apple at the legendary Madison Square Garden, even though that stuff isn't often as important to players as getting paid or being in a winning situation.
So on one level, this was a mighty cruel quote by Carmelo Anthony after last night's Nuggets-Knicks game.
"I really don't know what's going to happen the next year," Anthony said. "I don't know what's going to happen. But I don't see why anybody wouldn't want to play here in New York."
I know, I know, Carmelo's just trying to be nice. But doesn't he understand how Knicks fans operate? Doesn't he understand that, if you say New York would be a cool place to play, that means you want to leave your team as soon as possible to join the Knicks?
Just check out how SNY's Tommy Dee reacted to Melo's quote:
This is what the plan is about to me. They have the opportunity to give Lebron everything, should he pass the team can add pieces this season in the form of a max player and vets maybe on 1 year deals, the possibility of sign and trades, then have space to add the game changer.
At least that's what I've always felt.
What does that mean for fans? Well, if Lebron stays, I would think a team ready to make the playoffs in the bottom tier and make a push. Have another year of development with added piece, particularly defensively, around Gallinari, Toney Douglas and Wilson Chandler. The chance to add a 1st round pick this year and/or two possible quality second rounders as well.
Then be ready to become a Eastern Conference contender in 2011 if they can convince Melo, who doesn't seem like he needs all that much convincing.
Or ... maybe he was just trying to be nice. But as we covered above, it never works that way in the minds of many Knicks fans.
Besides LeBron James, the big fish in the 2010 free agency pool are Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. I think this is something we can all agree on. Both are young and already among the best players in the game.
But is it possible that LeBron prefers (gasp) Joe Johnson to all of those big fish? Ric Bucher of ESPN quotes a league source who says LeBron's ideal sidekick is none other than Johnson.
Bucher says that "If it's LeBron James they want, a league source says the Hawks' shooting guard is a very good place to start." Maybe that explains why the Knicks supposedly have a "wink wink" deal with JJ.
Here's my question about all this: why does LeBron prefer JJ to Bosh? Johnson's older, not as productive and plays in the same area (wing) as LeBron. He also currently scores most of his points off the dribble, so you have to wonder how he adjusts to playing off the ball with LeBron. Finally, the Hawks themselves would probably contest that Johnson is a better finisher than Bosh. They know otherwise.
Maybe the only reason LeBron prefers Johnson to Bosh is that LeBron is not a good judge of basketball talent. (Gasp!). I can safely say that Bosh is a much better player than Joe Johnson.
The NBA should pass a rule that requires every reporter to ask every player a question about LeBron James when interviewing them. That way, we can get gems from noted free agent expert Danny Granger, who of course doubles as the nominal star player of the Indiana Pacers.
Granger was asked about LeBron in an interview with Gery Woelfel for HoopsHype and said LeBron should leave Cleveland for greener pastures.
Speaking of LeBron, do you think he'll stay in Cleveland or bolt to New York?
DG: If I was LeBron, I'd go to New York.
Why the Big Apple?
DG: New York is the media mecca as far as endorsements and being able to expand your personnel net worth. The exposure you can get there isn't only nationally but globally. New York does all that for you.
Just so we're clear, this is the same guy that decided to sign a contract that'll cause him to spend more than half his career in Indiana. Yes, Indiana, the real "media mecca as far as endorsements." It's like the sister city of New York in that respect. Ammirite? #WordAaap!
(via Golden State of Mind)
The Cavaliers routed the hapless Nets last night, giving LeBron James another chance to see for himself how little talent one of his offseason suitors has. It was just a walk in the park for LeBron and the Cavs, who got the job done and got out of there without expending much effort.
Still, LeBron was booed by Nets fans because … well, he didn’t dunk it hard enough, or something. For that, they should be commended, writes Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News.
Unlike Knicks fans, Net fans last night didn’t plead for James to sign this summer with the worst team in the NBA.
They booed him.
They taunted him.
For all that, they deserve a round of applause.
In a league that’s gone totally soft, starting with the Garden fans who show up for games to cheer for James, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and other visiting superstars, the boos were good to hear at the Meadowlands during the Cavs’ 111-92 win.
It wasn’t what you’d call a hostile crowd. But twice the fans didn’t approve of the way James dunked the ball on breakaways. His two-handed drops were seen as too ordinary. Each time James completed the dunk, boos rained down from the crowd of 17,502.
Yeah, you tell him Nets fans! The Nets may be 6-54, but their fans are not soft! They’ll stand up for the good old days of the league, when people got into fights and everyone hated each other. The movement starts in New Jersey, but don’t worry, it’s just beginning. Soon, Lakers fans will boo LeBron too, and all will be right in Mitch Lawrence’s world, because that’s how it always used to be. Right? Right?
For his part, LeBron had this to say about the Nets.
“I think it’s a really, really good franchise,” James said. “They’ve got a bright future, and we’ll see what goes on in the future for this team.”
My guess is that he followed that line with “off the record, I’m never signing here, because the team stinks and I’m used to fans kissing up to me.” Or something.
Al Harrington is currently a member of the New York
Free Agents Knicks, so you’d think he’d have some sort of directive from management to talk up the Knicks’ situation as a way to get LeBron James to sign with them.
The New York Post caught up with Harrington before last Monday’s Knicks-Cavaliers game and asked him about LeBron. Here’s what he had to say:
“A lot of teams would love to have him and the Knicks are one of them,” Harrington told The Post in the visiting locker room at Quicken Loans Arena Monday night.
“But if he’s as loyal as he says, I would think it’s very hard for him to leave, especially because he’s home.
“If it was a different city, maybe not as much a connection, but at the end of the day, he generates every single thing for this whole state. It would be tough for him to make that decision to leave.”
Somewhere in Madison Square Garden, someone with the Knicks is calling Harrington in for a meeting explaining that you don’t tell LeBron to re-sign with the enemy. Harrington pretends to listen, but is really tuning them out. Then, he goes to practice and shoots a jump shot during a passing drill. Because he’s Al Harrington, and that’s what he does.
Apparently, Nets rookie guard Chris Douglas-Roberts says LeBron James is like a cousin to him, which is news to me. This obviously makes him very qualified to talk about LeBron’s future.
But Douglas-Roberts maintains he won’t lobby for LeBron to join the Nets, or something. He supposedly knows where LeBron is going and it isn’t New Jersey, according to the Bergen Record.
But Douglas-Roberts, who is represented by the same agent as James, Leon Rose, said he has an idea where the reigning MVP is going and he probably won’t try to recruit him to New Jersey.
“I can’t do that,” Douglas-Roberts said after the Nets prepared for tonight’s game against James and the Cavaliers. "It’s a bigger picture. It’s a bigger picture than me. It’s bigger than that.
“Leon, LeBron, everybody’s together. Every relationship we have, that’s what it is. For example if they’re not happy somewhere or they’re not happy with something it’s all in the family, no one’s happy.”
Later, CDR says this:
“[LeBron’s camp] don’t know,” Douglas-Roberts said. “But there’s an understanding. I can’t just say I know what he’s going to do. Everybody in our camp has a good feeling for what might happen — what might happen. We don’t know for sure. Things could change.”
Whoa, hold up. I have many, many follow-up questions to ask.
1. LeBron has talked to Chris Douglas-Roberts of all people about where he’s going this summer?
2. Chris Douglas-Roberts is in LeBron’s inner circle?
3. Douglas-Roberts wouldn’t try to lobby LeBron to join his team, even though they’re apparently friends? Not to mention LeBron is, oh I don’t know, the best player on the planet?
4. LeBron’s camp would take note about how the Nets have supposedly mistreated Chris Douglas-Roberts, who, by the way, is a second-round pick?
5. So if it’s a bigger picture than you, CDR, why would you then say that “it’s all in the family” and imply that if one person in the circle is mistreated, everyone is mistreated?
Wow, I’m confused. I guess that’s what’s par for the course over the next four months.
The Clippers are one team that cleared enough cap space at the trade deadline to make a run at LeBron James. They're noted as one of the darkhorses in the LeBron sweepstakes because they could surround LeBron with a nice core of Baron Davis, Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon and Chris Kaman.
So what are their chances? Steve Perrin from SB Nation's Clippers blog Clips Nation writes that they aren't great, but even a small chance to get LeBron was worth it. He also writes that the Clippers have as good a chance as anyone outside of Cleveland.
The Clippers chances of luring LeBron James to LA may not be particularly good - but if there's any chance at all, you absolutely have to go for it. This is a franchise-changing opportunity, and if you don't believe me, look at Cleveland's record the five years before and after the 2003 draft. Moreover, even if the odds don't look good today, you never know what's going to happen in the next few months. Maybe LeBron and the Cavs will have some sort of falling out. It's not like he has gone on record saying he's planning on playing his entire career in Cleveland. I've said before and I still believe that he's most likely, even highly likely, to be a Cavalier next season. But it's not at all difficult to make the case that if he wants an alternative, the best one is LAC (although the Knicks managed to clear enough space today to make them more attractive than they were yesterday).
So LeBron James has filed the necessary paperwork to the NBA to petition to change his number from 23 to 6. The stated reason is to pay respect to Michael Jordan, but considering Julius Erving and Bill Russell wore number 6 themselves, there’s probably a business side to the move, as Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski writes.
No matter the motives, though, the decision has a lot of impact on James’ summer decision. As Michael Lee of the Washington Post tweets:
Surprised few focusing on real story w/LeBron changing #s from 23 to 6: If he plans to change teams, he wouldn’t have to make request w/NBA
Well well well. Lee makes a good point: if James was really intent on leaving the Cavaliers, why would he go through the trouble of submitting paperwork for a number change? He wouldn’t have to waste his time doing all that if he was sure he was switching teams.
On the other hand, as Brian Windhorst originally tweeted above, the deadline for number change petitions is Friday, so James didn’t have the luxury of waiting until the summer. So maybe this is nothing to write home about. Perhaps it would have been big news only if he missed the deadline.
Either way, though, based on this news, we at least know that LeBron’s probably considering a return to Cleveland. For now at least.
So in case you weren't aware, the best basketball player in the world (sorry, Kobe fans) is going to be a free agent this summer. Then again, if you are a basketball fan and you weren't aware, you were probably living under a rock these past two years.
Yes, LeBron James is the headliner of arguably the best free agent class in professional sports history. There are other prizes to be sure -- Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire and more -- but the real prize is LeBron. And because we're talking about LeBron James, who has not expressed any real hints about where he'll sign this summer, there's been a ton of speculation about where he'll end up. Hell, there's been speculation that he'll end up with the Lakers, of all teams. This despite the Lakers not having cap room and already having Kobe Bryant on their team.
Who does have a chance at LeBron? A whopping eight teams -- New York, Miami, Chicago, New Jersey, Washington, Sacramento, the LA Clippers and Minnesota -- have enough cap room to sign James to a maximum contract. Four of those teams -- the Knicks, the Wizards, the Clippers and the Bulls -- traded away either important players or major assets at the trade deadline in order to create more cap room to sign James. We obviously cannot forget about James' current team, the Cavaliers, who are the only team that can offer him a six-year contract regardless of their cap situation (not to mention that they're also the best team in the NBA and are based near James' hometown). Finally, there are the teams that have assets for a possible sign and trade arrangement, like Dallas and Houston.
In other words, this is going to be crazy. There will be a lot of rumors and we're going to do our best to track all of them here. But before we get started, allow me to offer some random odds on where LeBron might sign, keeping in mind that a) this is all speculation, and b) we're still four months from LeBron becoming a free agent.
New York: 6-1
New Jersey with John Wall: 10-1
LA Clippers: 12-1
Dallas (in a sign and trade): 10-1
Houston (in a sign and trade): 15-1
New Jersey without John Wall: 25-1
I'm sure those odds are way off, which is why this will be fun. Gentlemen, start your engines!
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