Oh yeah everyone, its 2010 all over again. Twitter wasn’t as big. Everyone was working hard on getting ready for the TV special that would forever change sports – The Decision. ESPN ran this special for the decision of where then Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James was going to go for the 2010-11 NBA season & basically, change the landscape of the NBA forever.
At that point, James chose the Miami Heat, a team that pitched James on the idea that they could resign Dwyane Wade, bring in Chris Bosh from the Toronto Raptors & have strong role players around them who would want to play for less money in order to win a NBA Championship. The setup worked. James, Wade & Bosh all took less than what they could have commanded at the time on the open market to win.
Fast forward 4 years. The Heat have been to the NBA Finals every year of the LeBron James era & have won two championships in those 4 years. However, after the Heat got absolutely dismantled by the San Antonio Spurs in the 2014 NBA Finals, James had to make a big decision. Opt in to basically the exact same team who looked old & tired after the end of the regular season, or opt out & become an unrestricted free agent come July 1.
James has decided to become a free agent, with his agent letting the Miami Heat organization know that he will test the market & see what is out there around the NBA. With that said, we have put together the pros & cons of teams that James could go to this offseason & the potential setups that could take place once July 1 gets here.
LeBron James Can Resign With The Miami Heat.
James could easily resign with the Miami Heat & keep the lifestyle & setup that he has right now with Dwyane Wade & Chris Bosh. If all 3 of the stars can come together to take reduced pay cuts & renegotiate their deals, the possibly of bringing in Carmelo Anthony to the Heat is very real & a strong possibility, even though many people aren’t really hyping it up right now.
The main issue with the Heat is that the organization has to figure out how to deal with Dwyane Wade & his rapidly declining skills. Wade has labored through the last two seasons because of his hardcore, reckless style earlier in his career & it has prompted people to ask if its time for Wade to consider retirement, especially with 3 NBA Championships on his mantle.
James will make his endorsement money anywhere he goes, but if he were to stay with the Heat, it will help his overall public perception that he is just going to the biggest team at the time that has a chance to win, like that is some kind of sin. If you ask the general public, so many people still have a problem with how he left Cleveland in 2010.
However, the Cavaliers didn’t have a setup available to assure James that the team would get better around him over time. Pat Riley & the Miami Heat did, & that’s why James went & the rest is history. With Riley’s history of knowing how to win NBA Championships, he will have the respect of LeBron in the entire decision process & will be able to sell James on what has been done in the past & come up with a strong plan to bring together a championship team for the immediate future.
In terms of the actual roster itself, the Heat will have to free up cap room to help rebuild those role players that could be leaving in the offseason. Point guard Mario Chalmers has been at the center of the Heat fans angst ever since he got to the NBA, & he is a free agent this summer, however, after a terrible NBA Finals, his stock has gone down significantly. Shane Battier, a great defender & three-point specialist, has retired to take a job over at ESPN as a college basketball analyst. Chris “Birdman” Andersen didn’t have a strong season.
The team, outside of the big 3, doesn’t look nearly as strong as many other teams around the NBA right now, & James has come to realize that in order to compete with teams like the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago Bulls & other top teams around the league, the supporting cast has to be just as strong as the top stars.
LeBron James Can Sign With The Chicago Bulls & Can Have Easy Grouping With Derrick Rose & Carmelo Anthony.
While many people may think this is an absolutely insane move, consider this………..LeBron James is one of the best defensive players in the NBA, & the Chicago Bulls are noted for playing great defense, in fact, the Bulls have had great playoff runs in the last few seasons because of the excellent defensive skills & the heart that they play with on a nightly basis.
Derrick Rose is clearly the franchise player for the Bulls, however, because of his injuries over the last few seasons, people are not as high on Rose as they were. Rose has to show that he can stay healthy for an entire season, if he can do that, the Bulls are an instant destination for not only LeBron James but also Carmelo Anthony & possibly both of them together.
It has been widely speculated that LeBron & Carmelo want to play together & while some people can say that Melo’s game wouldn’t work with LeBron because Melo is apparently a “ball hog,” consider this………..he has played on the New York Knicks the last few seasons…..he has had to deal with J.R. Smith jacking up terrible shots, Raymond Felton being inconsistent, & while Tyson Chandler is a great defensive player, he leaves much to be desired on the offensive end. Iman Shumpert is a good role player, but not enough to take significant pressure off of Anthony on a nightly basis.
If James, Anthony or both were on the Chicago Bulls, they instantly become a title contender without even stepping onto the court. However, in order to make that happen, the Bulls would have to clear out significant cap room. The Bulls have the old contract of Richard Hamilton on their books for two more years (Hamilton accepted a $1 million dollar buyout, but it was spread over three years to save some relief on the salary cap), as well as the contract of Nikola Mirotic, the Bulls draft pick from last season.
However, if the Bulls can trade the 16th & 19th overall draft picks this year, plus trade a player such as Mike James, Lou Amundsen, Ronnie Brewer and/or Tony Snell, the Bulls would have great space available to possibly sign one of the players. Yes, the Bulls have some bigger contracts on their team, but the team could definitely benefit from having LeBron James come in, even if they were to chose him over Carmelo, simply for defensive purposes. As great as Carmelo is, he is not even close to the level of defender that LeBron James is.
All of this will be null & void, however, if Derrick Rose can’t come back from the injury to be the same player that he was back in 2011 & 2012, during the very beginning of her career. Without Rose, LeBron would have to be the lead guy again, going back to his role in Cleveland during his early years & that is a road that James isn’t likely willing to go down again.
LeBron James Could Team With Dwight Howard & James Harden On The Houston Rockets.
The Houston Rockets have been slowly putting together one of the most dominant teams in the NBA that is on the rise. The team traded Kevin Martin to the Oklahoma City Thunder for James Harden in 2012 & made Harden the face of the franchise at the time.
The next year, the team gets in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes & brings in Howard to complement Harden & bringing in a dynamic 1-2 punch that pushed the Portland Trailblazers to the limit in the 2014 NBA Playoffs.
The Rockets need to have one more piece that would put them over the top. Many thought it could have been Jeremy Lin & Chandler Parsons & while Parsons has been a great fit from 3-point range, Lin has been a disappointment in many ways, mainly because of his lack of defensive skills. This is where LeBron would fit in perfectly. He can be that small forward that can take some of the offensive load off of Harden & Howard & will continue to enhance their defense overall.
With LeBron playing the 3, Harden can easily penetrate to the basket & Dwight Howard can just be the dominant force down in the low block because he will have far more one on one matchups because of having to play honest on LeBron. The Rockets have been talking with various teams around the league about making deals to send off other players (particularly Lin) & trying to free up cap space & possibly do a sign & trade to bring James to Houston.
From a basketball standpoint, it works outstanding. All of the main guys’ styles work well together & the games are very different to where people won’t be standing on top of each other. Plus, if LeBron needs convincing, Kevin McHale is a great guy to listen to, especially because he has just as much cache as Pat Riley does in terms of winning championships as he did with the Boston Celtics, so McHale knows exactly what it takes to become a champion.
What many people don’t realize is Houston is one of the largest media centers in the United States as well as one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country, meaning that James will have all of the top endorsements being in Houston as he would have had in Miami & New York, especially with his attitude & culture of being a winner throughout his career.
LeBron James Could Go To the Los Angeles Lakers……….& So Could Carmelo Anthony.
Anytime a big free agent can possibly go somewhere, the Los Angeles Lakers are always in the conversation. For the first time in many years, the Lakers have tremendous cap flexibility going into the 2014 offseason, & the Buss Family (owners of the Lakers) have said on many occasions that they are preparing to after both LeBron James & Carmelo Anthony.
The Lakers are the one team that can financially go after both & not worry about the luxury tax penalties that could ensue. The Lakers still have Kobe Bryant, who is at the tail end of his career, despite what he may say or believe. Kobe needs significant help right now in order to get to another NBA Championship.
Kobe has put tons of pressure on the Buss Family to make a championship team right now, & while the Lakers have been holding tight on a possible head coach, the wait on hiring a coach could be something that is a deterrent for LeBron coming to Los Angeles because of his desire to be in a winning culture right now & bring in a six NBA Championship before he can retire.
In terms of talent available, the Lakers will always attract high quality players & if Kobe, Pau Gasol & others are on the roster, even with a Steve Nash who is deteriorating & wasn’t a strong defensive player. LeBron could revitalize all of their careers & make the Lakers the talk of the NBA once again & make them a true contender to the NBA Championship & bring them back to being the #1 team in their own city, as the Los Angeles Clippers & the Los Angeles Kings have made the Lakers the #3 team in the Staples Center alone, & no one would have ever imagined that day happening. The Clippers have had a long playoff run, but with all of the fallout from the Donald Sterling situation, the Clippers will hardly be an option for a player of James’ stature & the Kings are coming off of winning a Stanley Cup Championship.
If the Lakers were to sign LeBron James & Carmelo Anthony, it would have rippling effects in not only the NBA, but sports & entertainment. Currently, LeBron James is slated to star in a new Kevin Hart feature film & those opportunities would only get stronger with being in Los Angeles & in the heart of Hollywood. While James may not want to be the biggest Hollywood star in the game, he will be the toast of tinsletown & his endorsement potential would skyrocket (see Chris Paul & Blake Griffin with State Farm & Kia), which would help to develop James’ overall business brand.
Another situation that the Lakers have going in their favor is that they have the #7 pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft, where many scouts are expecting them to take Julius Randle out of Kentucky. Randle is a young forward who would be expected to play immediately & with the young talent that the Lakers will be bringing in for the upcoming season, bringing in superstars like LeBron & Melo & bringing Kobe Bryant back would be excellent for Randle’s or any of the draft pick’s basketball development & take the pressure off of the young rookie while slowly bringing in the future of the Lakers organization while not sacrificing the opportunity in the present.
LeBron James Can Always Go Home To Cleveland Cavaliers.
While so many people have talked about how James may end up going back to Cleveland to become the “conquering hero,” I am just not seeing that scenario. The Cavaliers have great young talent in Kyrie Irving & possibly Tristan Thompson & Dion Waiters, but this is not a team that is ready to win an NBA Championship right now. That is what James wants more than anything – a ready-made roster for a title.
Plus, outside of basketball, the team & the city was so upset over James leaving that they may not be willing to welcome him back immediately. But then again, the Cleveland sports fans have been waiting for so long on a championship contender that the may not care about the past if James can come in & bring a championship to the city of Cleveland & to his home state of Ohio.
Going back to Cleveland could be the great move from a public relations standpoint & if he were to win a NBA Championship in Cleveland, he would be one of the biggest heroes in sports, short of playing for the Chicago Cubs & bringing them a World Series. This doesn’t seem to be the likely scenario, not only because of the basketball ramifications, but because the owner, Dan Gilbert, is not a fan of LeBron in the slightest & him bringing up back in may take so much repair that it may not be worth it.