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However, that point of view may have been outdated.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.