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The Summer of LeBron

By Dave Bruning

The long awaited, much anticipated summer of LeBron has arrived. Another stellar Cleveland Cavalier regular season followed by playoff weaknesses exposed has made Lebron James the most coveted free agent in NBA history. LeBron’s decision to stay in Cleveland or seek an NBA title elsewhere has upstaged everything NBA, including a juicy Finals rematch between Los Angeles and Boston. It’s going to be a damn good soap opera.

The excitement over LeBron is obvious. On the back burner is one of the best overall free agents classes in recent memory. Other coveted free agents include Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Dirk Nowitzki, Joe Johnson and potentially Amare Stoudemire. The NBA landscape could see new faces in new places. LeBron is the key.

Realistically, LeBron can sign with one of six teams. Those teams are Cleveland, Chicago, New York, New Jersey, Miami or the Los Angeles Clippers. Let’s briefly analyze each team’s chances.

Cleveland – LeBron’s hometown team. He can sign here for the most money, and clearly wants to bring Cleveland a long overdue championship. The playoff disappointments have to weigh heavily on his mind. I do believe he has a tremendous sense of loyalty. I also think part of him wants to try his hand elsewhere.

Chicago – If LeBron leaves, this is his most likely destination. The Bulls have a nice young nucleus of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah to build around. It would be tempting and daunting at the same time to follow in Michael Jordan’s Chicago footsteps. I think this is his best shot at a title in the immediate future.

New York – The allure of Madison Square Garden is strong, as is reviving the storied Knicks franchise. Aside from that, I don’t see much to build around on the Knick roster. LeBron would have unlimited marketing opportunities, but that isn’t a strong enough reason to leave a more talented Cleveland roster.

New Jersey – This is the team that intrigues me the most. Despite their 12-70 record this past season, they have some nice young players, the third pick in the draft, and an impending move to Brooklyn. Let’s not forget their new billionaire Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov and his desire to turn the Nets into the first world franchise. Finally LeBron’s pal JayZ is involved with Nets’ ownership. There is a lot to like here. On the downside, LeBron would have to sacrifice a couple of his prime years before the Nets were ready to make a run at a title and he would have to do that in Newark while the Nets new home in Brooklyn is finished. I was born in New Jersey. That’s asking a lot of LeBron.

Miami – The opportunity to play with Dwayne Wade is intriguing. I don’t think LeBron would like to be perceived as a second fiddle to anybody, and this would be the case if he went to Miami.

Los Angeles Clippers – The Clip joint would love LeBron. They have a talented roster that LeBron would improve dramatically. He would have to compete with Kobe and Donald Sterling is one of the least likable owners to play for in any sport. I don’t see it happening.

Having reviewed LeBron’s options, it is my opinion he goes to Chicago. I personally would love to see him take a chance and head to Brooklyn. The fallout of LeBron’s decision sends Chris Bosh to Chicago as well, Dwayne Wade stays in Miami and is joined by Amare Stoudemire, Dirk Nowitzki stays in Dallas and the Knicks end up with Joe Johnson and continued misery.

Nugget’s fans beware: Look for New Jersey owner Prokhorov to make a big run at Carmelo Anthony following the 2010-2011 season if he can’t sign LeBron. Don’t be surprised if Anthony bolts Denver for the greener pastures of Brooklyn/Moscow.

1 comment:

  1. Nice evaluation but I really can't see BronBron in Chi-town. Personal opinion but I think legacy means a lot to James and having to win six championships before Bulls fans even put him in discussion with the other guy (not Bill Cartwright). I see NY as the town for Lebron, doing what Ewing couldn't, make the #1 city #1 at basketball.