The 1st of July will be a day that will shake the basketball world as we know it. Former franchise poster-boys will be testing the waters in search of the right team that can bring them the most fame, fortune and rings on their fingers. The crown jewel of the 2010 free agents is none other than The King; LeBron James. Where will his future destination be?
Now forget the rumor mill. Putting all speculation and bruits aside, yours truly will be weighing LeBron options based on concrete tangible facts not assumptions. Currently LeBron’s top legitimate candidates to landing him are; Cleveland, Chicago, New York and New Jersey. However, there are dark horses that can woo James to join their organization for 2010.
Cleveland has been the home for LeBron James for virtually his entire life. Growing up in the city of Akron, Ohio LeBron is the adored home-town boy that runs the city. The Cavs are a team that has shown growth over his tenure but sadly have shown the inability to play successful playoff basketball. For this reason I think LeBron wants to look elsewhere for a team that can keep him in the NBA Playoffs deep into mid June. As grateful as LBJ is I feel he is looking for a new chapter in his basketball career in a new destination.
In the Windy City, the winning allure is fast returning as the Chicago Blackhawks recently just won the Stanley Cup. Across the street from the Mad House in Madison (Blackhawks Arena), the United Center is where the youthful and improving Bulls play their games. With a strong core already the Bulls can court LeBron and another maximum level player to join their team, attractive? LeBron seems to think so. However, Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf is known as quite a stingy owner and was even called a “cheapskate” by Time Magazine in 1995.
After winning six titles in the 90′s Reinsdorf broke up the personnel from those teams including Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson. This is surely a concern of LeBron’s. If Reinsdorf was hesitant to spend on keeping MJ and basketballs best coach, how will he treat LeBron James in the future? Another deterrent of LeBron going to Chicago is that copper statue outside the arena and those 6 NBA Championship banners hanging in the rafters….
New York is my personal preference for The King. He is vocal about being an athlete billionaire and winning titles. There is no better place to do it than in New York. Being the global marketing capital and Mecca of basketball, NY will give LeBron unlimited business opportunities to fulfill. LeBron is already being offered a TV network if he signs with the Knickerbockers and is set to meet with entrepreneur and music mogul Diddy to discuss business ventures if he signs. World renown Iron Chef Mario Battali told LeBron that if he joins the Knicks he will cook meals for him once a week for 20 of his closest friends. A group of stars in New York have also formed to attract LeBron to the city including; Spike Lee, Diddy, Alec Baldwin and Howard Stern amongst others. You think the money and star treatment is attractive? LeBron definitely has his eyes on New York.
Under new billionaire ownership and a promising team New Jersey can make a fair run at Mr. James. With a good nucleus of young players and an opportunity to seek 2 max players the Nets are a contender. Newark, NJ isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing city in the world but billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov and Jay Z are moving the team to Brooklyn. However the team isn’t positioned to win yet and playing in Madison Square Garden is no more than an hour away so this can affect LeBron’s decision.
My two sleepers to make an admirable run at LeBron James are the Clippers and the Mavericks. Both teams have the salary room to ink a premier level player and both teams have very solid teams already. The LA Clippers are historically a dreadful team, but they do have the 3rd biggest market in the NBA. LA is a great city to play in and this is a team that LeBron could make his own and create an identity. A starting lineup with Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, James, Blake Griffin and All Star Chris Kaman would make them as good as anybody. The appeal of LeBron constructing a legacy in Los Angeles is there, its whether or not he wishes to pursue it.
Dallas is interesting as well. For one thing the organization has an owner that is willing to give everything up for winning. Mark Cuban is willing to spend, spend and spend some more to keep LeBron happy. The possible trio of LBJ, Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki with additional complementary pieces is a team that can compete for the title. James and Jason Kidd are known to have a close relationship with each other and Kidd will be used as a recruitment tool by the Mavs. Additional food for thought would be playing twenty home games a year in the majestic Dallas Cowboys Stadium and the fact that there is no state income-tax in the “Lone Star State”…more pocket change for LeBron.
The reason why I don’t consider Miami as a first tear contender is because LeBron is an alpha player in the NBA. He wants to be the main figure in the spotlight and the man to lead his team to victory. If he goes south to Miami he will potentially share the limelight with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. D-Wade runs the city of Miami and if LeBron steps in he cannot expect to be the consensus #1 basketball figure.
To see James and Wade (possibly Bosh) play together would be nothing short of palpable and every night would be the best show on earth. However, to have 2 or 3 players that demand that ball in clutch moments of the game wouldn’t make sense from a team perspective. We all know LeBron wants to win but he can win elsewhere and be the complete focal point not only on the court, but in the city.
BUT if LeBron is willing to throw away records, recognition and ” hes-the-greatest-ever” debates about himself than he can form a dynasty with Wade and possibly Bosh that would change the complexity of the NBA forever.
Where do you think his destination will be?