Two years ago, Lebron James told me and the rest of the world to get excited for July 1, 2010. He said it was going to be a big day. He lied. Unless of course Darko Milicic signing with Timberwolves, Drew Gooden signing with...(umm, line?)...the Bucks (wow, that took way to long to find the answer to that), and Rudy Gay signing with the Grizzlies is exciting to you. For me, that doesn't quite do it. As the clock winds down today, it looks like we're going to have to embark on the NBA's mini-version of the "What will Brett Favre decide?" game. I'm gonna call it, get this, the "What will the top NBA free agents decide game?".
What? Everybody else gets to do it.
I'm gonna put Lebron James last in a poor effort to keep you all reading until the end. So, here goes:
It would be much easier to pick like this. In fact I have a better chance of being right if I do, but I'll give my own knowledge a chance this time around.
13. Drew Gooden - Milwaukee Bucks
12. Darko Milicic - Minnesota Timberwolves
11. Rudy Gay - Memphis Grizzlies
3-for-3 and I'm just getting started.
10. David Lee - New York Knicks
There's only one reason this would happen. The Knicks failed to acquire Lebron James or any power forward. So I've already partially spoiled my choice for Lebron.
9. Ray Allen - Boston Celtics
With Doc coming back, expect Pierce to do the same, and for that matter, Ray Allen as well. He could be a lethal third addition for any of the teams shopping around, but I think the Celtics might still believe they have one more run left in them.
8. Paul Pierce - Boston Celtics
With the right combination of slacking in the regular season, saving their legs for the postseason, and not getting injured in either season, the Celtics could still have one last hurrah. Probably not, but it might be worth Pierce sticking around and retiring a Celtic, like every person expected was a lock until yesterday.
7. Carlos Boozer - Chicago Bulls
You Booze, you lose. Not only is that not applicable here, but its not actually a real saying. Expect Chicago to B.Y.O.B. (Bring Your Own Booze) to 82 games next season. Yes, that means no Chris Bosh. And yes that means no championship. Maybe.
6. Amare Stoudemire - Miami Heat
J.A. Adande told me (in a column he wrote for everyone in the world with internet to read) that Stoudemire wants to go to Miami or Phoenix. For him to go to Miami, Bosh would have to commit elsewhere, or Bosh, Wade and Stoudemire would all have to take paycuts and assemble a super-team.
5. Joe Johnson - Atlanta Hawks
From what I heard, it's almost a done deal. Even he knows its not worth going to the Knicks for a max deal. Maybe this move will save the Knicks from doing something irrational and bring Carmelo and Chris Paul to New York next season.
4. Dirk Nowitzki - Dallas Mavericks
Dirk knows Dallas. Nothing else.
3. Chris Bosh - Miami Heat
Bosh is the man in the position of power right now. He ultimately holds the fate of the next Eastern Conference champion if he wants. Him and Lebron would be some tandem. But I think even Bosh is leaning towards playing with Wade.
2. Dwyane Wade - Miami Heat
Wade made it pretty clear he wants to stay in Miami. I think he's playing free agency smarter than anyone else. He's recruiting for the Heat, understands Lebron wants to do his own thing, and sees a golden opportunity to maintain his loyalty to a city he loves and potentially bring the championship back to Miami. I'll explain in a few.
So where will this man go?
1. Lebron James -
Boringgggggggg. Lebron stays. Yesterday, if I had written this post, I would've said Chicago. But now, I feel like all signs point to Cleveland. But why?
1. Loyalty - If there's one thing Lebron has demonstrated throughout his career, its loyalty to his hometown. He wants to bring a championship there. He can take a jet to any major market. If no one has notice, Lebron is his own major market. New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Miami are aware of the Lebron phenomenon.
2. Respect - I think he respects what Jordan did in Chicago too much. I don't think he wants to live in Jordan's shadow throughout his career. Granted the Lakers had Chamberlain before Kareem, Kareem before Magic, and Magic before Kobe, and it is a big deal to carry on others legacy, I think Lebron believes Jordan's legacy is cemented in Chicago. There will never be another Jordan. No one will ever claim Jordan's city. Lebron wants his own city.
3. Coaching - Lebron got the coach he wanted: Byron Scott. He has the mix of everything Lebron is looking for in a coach. And oh yeah, he's not Mike Brown.
4. The Environment - Why would Lebron want to come to Miami if Miami beach will be covered in oil sometime in the near future? It just doesn't seem plausible.
So what does this mean?
1) Lebron's basing his decision on the fact he thinks a coach is the Final piece to the championship puzzle. The problem: The players make the team. Phil needed MJ and Scottie, Kobe and Shaq, and Kobe and Gasol. Popovich needed Robinson and Duncan, Parker, Ginobli and Duncan. Reilly needed Wade and Shaq. You get the idea. Yes, Mike Brown was a pretty bad coach, but they won 60 games with him two years in a row. My point exactly. It's not the coach that puts wins on the board. It's the players.
2) Lebron's team doesn't get much better, which means they probably can't win a title again. His supporting cast can't do it. He needs more.
3) Wade will likely have a better shot at the title. By choosing money and loyalty over the smart move, Lebron is costing himself championships, and the ultimate fame that comes along with them. Wade, Bosh and whomever else they get (Stoudemire or not) should walk away this summer with the best new team in the Eastern Conference. A team poised to take down Lebron's Cavs. Maybe not Kobe's Lakers. But definitely Lebron's Cavs. I know James wants to make this all a spectacle, but in doing so, I think he's missing out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to propel his fame to the ultimate level. James, Wade and Bosh is unbeatable. A paycut means nothing. With all the championships that would ensue, Lebron will make more money than he could ever dream of. But without going to Chicago or Miami, he won't get those championships.
And if he doesn't, maybe Lebron will never be more than an NBA All-Star with a few MVPs and scoring titles.
As he becomes a Witness to Wade and Bosh's success.
Images taken from bing.com