The NBA playoffs have another month left and all I care about is the start of Free Agency. So it doesn’t matter if Superman shines, ‘Sheed punches Artest, or if Gasol gets a haircut. This is because Bron Bron is out. Wade is out. Boozer is out. Bosh is out. Joe Johnson is out. And all of them seem like they want to catch the next bus to either Chicago or New York. But should LeBron?
Will King James Stay?
If LeBron won the title this year, I have no doubt he would have stayed in Cleveland. But now that his team is suddenly out of the playoffs, and the way they went out, leads me to believe that he will go. The city of Cleveland will try everything in their power to try to keep him. Everything, including the rediculous “We are LeBron parody.” (I would provide a link to the video but the video doesn’t work, coincidence?). That is desperation from a desperate city. They only forgot one thing. LeBron is a Jay-Z guy, not a Michael Jackson Guy.
Besides this video, Cleveland would need to do the following to keep LeBron on the Erie shores:
- Fire Head Coach Mike Brown, and do it yesterday. He got outclassed by Doc Rivers! Seriously. Think about that for a second. Also, do not hire John Calliapari to replace Brown. He’s a cheat that can’t coach, only illegally recruit (see Camby, Rose, Wall). The Cavs will be able to get any coach in the league, and wooing Phil Jackson wouldn’t hurt. But Phil won’t go to Cleveland without the King. Hire a proven coach, ala Jeff Van Gundy, who can get the most out of an underperforming surrounding cast, while keeping some pressure off of LeBron.
- We learned these playoffs, LBJ needs a supporting cast better than Mo Williams and the corpse of Shaquille O’Neill. Seriously, Mo doesn’t understand game flow well enough to know when LeBron needs to touch the ball, and just shoots too much. Vastly overrated. Vastly. Shaq, hang them up. You have now killed the Heat, Suns, and Cavs in successive seasons. I heard someone on the radio say that Kobe could have won a title with that Cleveland team. I don’t know. He hasn’t won a title without a hungry, in his prime power PF/C (Gasol, Young Shaq), playing alongside him. Which leads me to…
- Make a run at Bosh, Boozer, or Amare and have them help you carry the stretcher with Shaq’s corpse off of the court. Sign them before LBJ signs. It’s a preemptive move and a little insurance. (On this note, I don’t think Amare is leaving, and Boozer shouldn’t leave the league’s current top PG under 30 and a system that fits him perfectly.)
- Honestly, one thing that isn’t being mentioned right now in all of this talk is LBJ’s years on the court. Sure he’s 25, but he’s been playing 90-100 games a year for the past seven seasons. Look at Kobe this year at age 30. He’s playing and looks like he’s 34. It’s fair to say LeBron will start wearing out at a younger age. Those that say he has seven years left in his prime, may be overestimating it. Honestly, LeBron has to have legs the equivalent of an actual 28 year old. Still young, but he will start to lose explosiveness (his best trait) in the next 3-5 years. This gives him a 4 year window to start dominating. Do you think NY will be ready in 4 years? Cleveland more of a lock to win in this window.
- He would crush the soul of Cleveland. I like to think Cleveland fans should be ready for this. They know he’s good as gone.
If not Cleveland, where would King James Go?
To me there only seems to be three logical destinations if he leaves, New York, Chicago, or Miami. They are the only three in markets big enough with cap space.
Sure it would be nice to play with Wade, but that team is a mess, and Miami fans are the worst in the NBA. They don’t deserve him. He will not sign there.
Chicago looks like a nice fit. Rose, Noah, and Company are a playoff team that plays with passion in games that count. Much of the argument I made for LBJ staying in Cleveland can be made for Chicago. They will get a good coach, and have pieces Cleveland doesn’t have. It would be a great fit.
Here is why it won’t happen, and this is coming from an overly loyal and optimistic Chicago sports fan. The Bulls front office is a mess. It’s just strange to see the differences in the two Jerry Reinsdorf owned teams. The White Sox seem to have a good organization and a strong GM that gets what he wants, while the team remains loose. The Bulls front office fights, has an ego, the GM doesn’t get what he wants, and the team is micromanaged (remember the Wallace headband incident). I think LeBron will remember this/see it. He does wear a headband after all.
But the biggest drawback is that Michael Jordan’s statue sits right outside and his shadow looms large. LeBron will have to win seven straight titles to consider winning over Bulls fans. I find that unlikely with Rose and Noah. They aren’t Pippen and Grant.
More likely is that the Bulls will sign Wade. Rose and Wade, native South-siders, making a run would be fun.
It pains me to say that NYC is the best fit for LeBron, if he leaves. No shadow. No titles since the 70’s. A good coach. A chance to be a billionaire. If he comes in with Wade, Bosh, Boozer, or Amare, they are immediately better. It would still take a couple of years to get a few other pieces for a title run, but they could make the playoffs in year one. The Knicks could be better than we are giving them credit for at the start. They have some role players.
Ultimately, LeBron wants to be a King. New York would be his Buckingham Palace. I get the impression he’s intrigued by living in Manhattan, next to Madison Ave, in the Madison Square Garden. The league wants him here. So while it’s not the most ideal on the court situation right now, it is what I think most people would like to see. A good Knicks team is good for everyone else in the league. I just punched myself.
I think LBJ will be in NYC in Fall 2010. It’s a place where he can become iconic, across the globe. Regardless of where he ends up, he will win at least one title eventually. The chain effect will be in place. Wade in Chicago. Bosh wherever LBJ signs. Then everyone else re-signing where they are. Sorry Cleveland, but you knew deep down this was coming.