As the Cavaliers choked badly against the Celtics and with coach Mike Brown most likely out the door, it seems more and more likely than LeBron James will leave Cleveland and sign a max deal somewhere else. But where will he land? Or will he leave?
Staying with Cleveland
LeBron will make the most money re-signing with Cleveland, earning at most $126 million over a six year deal while other teams can offer up to $96.2 million over a five year deal (and the supposed contract with Nike that would pay him more elsewhere is not true, that was on the previous contract). Plus he is from the Cleveland area, only 40 miles away. And here is what I think. If he wins a title in Cleveland, he will be beloved there forever, the futility of Cleveland sports being the main reason. Plus another thing, I do not believe that just moving to New York or another big market city will spike merchandise sales, winning will do that regardless of city. Plus here is another thing. My thing is that I think some people will view LeBron as quitter when he did not win a title in Cleveland, and he is not that far off. So in my opinion, I think he will stay but the likelihood of him staying is much less than say at midseason.
Signs with New York Knicks
LeBron has stated his love for Madison Square Garden and has played awesome there. And Donnie Walsh has been doing wonders in clearing cap room for LeBron and it will most likely be seen as a failure if the Knicks do not sign LeBron as the Knicks are under the salary cap in the first time in around 15 years. But there is no way that LeBron can ignore the dysfunction that has plagued the Kmicks as of late and even with LeBron, the Knicks still do not have a dominant big man (although Chris Bosh is certainly an option) nor do they have many other pieces to work with so they would be at least a couple years away to be on the level with say Orlando.
Signs with the Nets
This is not as unlikely as some people say it could be. Yes the Nets were pitiful last year, we all know that. LeBron has shown his love for Jay-Z, who is a minority owner of the Nets. Mikhail Prokhorov has boatloads of cash on the way over from Russia. The Nets have an elite center (who is actually mobile, unlike the guy who has been playing with LeBron of late) plus a pretty good guard in Devin Harris and a top 3 or better draft pick plus another first round choice. And they are moving to Brooklyn within the next couple of years.
Signs with the Bulls
The dark horse in the group, in my opinion. While LeBron will never be Michael Jordan and be the greatest player in franchise history, which is what I think he wants to be for whatever teams he plays for, there is a pretty good nucleus around him. There is a great young point guard in Derrick Rose, a pretty good center in Joakim Noah, a really good wing player in Luol Deng and a solid guard in Captain Kirk Hinrich. If he signs there I think he could and will win a title within a couple of years, which you can't say about some of the other favorites to sign him.
Today is the day that Mikhail Prokhorov becomes the majority owner of the hapless New Jersey Nets. Prokhorov's quest to buy 80 percent and 45 percent of the Barclays Center project in Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, which is finally under way, for approximately 200 million dollars from the moronic Bruce Ratner, who cared more about the Brooklyn arena than the team itself. Thus in an attempt to keep the team afloat traded all of the team's major players in Vince Carter & Jason Kidd for good players such as Devin Harris & Courtney Lee but not much else. The team lacked depth and when injuries struck in the beginning of the season, there was not a chance, despite the best efforts of Brook Lopez, who developed into a dominant presence in the paint.
Speaking of Lopez, what is important is that the Nets do have important positions filled. They have a dominant center in Lopez and a good point guard in Devin Harris. Add to that a top draft pick, which could be John Wall if they get the top pick (after last season they should be given the top pick but they only have a 25% shot thanks to the NBA Lottery System). Other options for their pick include Evan Turner, DeMarcus Cousins, or Derrick Favors, who would all fill the Nets' biggest need: talent.
Now in free agency, the Nets have slim to none chances on signing LeBron or Dwayne Wade, but there a bunch of guys that they could and should sign. Chris Bosh would make for an awesome front court with Lopez, as would Carlos Boozer and David Lee who would cheaper but good options nonetheless. And Amar'e Stoudemire likes where the Nets are headed and is not opposed to signing with them, and he would a be a great player to have. The Nets should definetly go after him.
As for a coach, the Nets need to hire a coach with job experience. And that does not mean a has-been like Doug Collins. The three I think they should seriously consider is Jeff Van Gundy, Avery Johnson, and the Czar Mike Fratello.
This should be the start oif something big for the Nets. The team will draw well in Newark in a great arena and then they'll be at an awesome arena in Brooklyn.
Another thing they should consider is a new nickname. The Nets is a terrible nickname especially since their logo has no Net. They should start fresh once they're in Brooklyn.
Team logos courtesy Chris Creamer's SportsLogos.net