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NBA Preview Part 1 – It’s Getting Hot in Here, or at least Stuffy…

October 23, 2010 Leave a comment

The most anticipated NBA season since Jordan retired is set to kick off with an absolute must-see game on Tuesday night, which makes this the perfect time to begin some sort of NBA preview. Of course, I also have an assignment due for my Art Education class, so maybe this is actually the perfect time to write that…

Nah.

There is no way around the reality that this offseason was the most hyped in NBA (and possibly sports) history. It was talked about basically from the moment that LeBron, Wade and Bosh signed their post rookie contrats, with the momentum swelling like a tsunami as the Summer of 2010 approached. For the NBA, the penultimate outcome of all that hype really couldn’t have been any better. After weeks of front page speculation, the “big three” free agents joined forces and, in so doing, became wrestling style villains. There have been millions of words spilled on The Decision and I don’t really have anything new to add, so I wont bother… much.

Suffice to say that we want our sports heroes to choose things like people, place and the pursuit of titles over the largest possible payday, but then when they do, we criticize them anyhow. If I had been LeBron, I wouldn’t have taken my talents to South Beach (I would have taken them to New York, where the Garden could have become the ultimate throne), but I can’t really begrudge him wanting to play with his buddies in a city that’s always hot, and always HOT.

Will this affect his legacy? Perhaps, but as Chuck Klosterman so wisely pointed out during his BS Report appearance back in July, sports is the only avenue where we criticize public figures for not thinking about their legacy. When actors, musicians, or politicians are seen chasing their legacy we tear them to shreds. When Jordan suits up for the Wizards, Emmet plays for the Cardinals, or LeBron chooses to take his talents to Miami, we criticize them for ruining their legacies. We, the public, are a hypocritical and conflicting audience, which is why LeBron made the absolute right choice (albeit in the absolute wrong way): he did what he wanted. That’s all that really matters, he’s the only person he needs to satisfy. The rest of us? Well, we’d have found a way to criticize him no matter what he did.

Of course, the Heat will be villains this year. In the aftermath of The Decision, I heard Simmons alternately compare LeBron to Hollywood Hulk Hogan and to Alex Rodriguez. Both were (are) despised, but that’s fine, because it allows the Heat to play the proverbial US against the World card. Perhaps even more importantly, it allows the NBA to market a super villain and believe me, every league wants a super villain. There can’t be a Superman without Lex Luther, Spiderman without Green Goblin, or a Professor X without Magneto. And, there certainly cannot be a Dark Knight without the Joker, so the Heat will play 41 games this year in their liar where they are protected by their fans (at least the ones who arrive on time) and they will play another 41 where the fans want their blood. Every team is going to bring the best version of themselves with the intention of knocking the Heat off a perch to which they’ve yet to climb. It will be great theatre and it will be great basketball. I, for one, can’t wait.

How the Celtics helped the Knicks…

May 14, 2010 2 comments

Could you feel that? That moment last night? The moment when the history of basketball in Cleveland, in New York, in Chicago, and in the NBA at large, shifted? It was seismic. If you had asked me a week ago, I would have placed the odds on LeBron returning to Cleveland next year at well over 60%. If they made the finals, I would have bumped that up to over 90%. Win or lose. Now…? Wow. It’s a whole new game.

The blame for this debacle is going to be sprayed everywhere. It’s the elbow. It’s the supporting cast. It’s Mike Brown. It’s the shitty teammates assembled by Danny Ferry. Or, it’s LeBron himself. Maybe he just doesn’t have “it,” maybe he’s more Karl Malone than Michael Jordan. Or… maybe he’s just 25 and has yet to win it all. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. A guy just “doesn’t have the right stuff to lead a team to a title,” right up until the point where he leads his team to a title. It’s not a magic power. If Jordan retires after the ’97 season, then the Jazz likely win the ’98 title and, well… then history judges Malone differently, but understand that he’s the same dude.

We tend to think of these things as black and white, because, well sport seems like a black and white issue. You win or you don’t, but of course sports is like life. And life, has shades of grey. It’s a veritable rainbow of cascading grey. Yes, there is a bottom line, you’ve won or you haven’t won, but that doesn’t mean that another outcome couldn’t have occurred. Or that it wont occur in the future. Right now, it seems like the taint of losing is beginning to cling to LeBron. That the foundation of his jump amongst the top ten players of all time has cracked, but wait, wait patiently, because his legacy is far from complete.

Whatever else comes of this, I feel strangely certain of two things: First, LeBron will win a title (or more) one day. And two, that day wont come in Cleveland. It just seems like something changed this week. We know that the running joke as the Cavs fell to pieces was that the Knicks, not the Celtics, were winning. To whit, from John Hollinger’s Twitter on Tuesday night:

One of biggest playoff wins in KNICKS history.

There’s almost nothing left to be done in Cleveland, but pick up the burnt down rubble and send it to the landfill. The LeBron era is over. Done. Finished. He’s gone. New York, New York it’s his kind of town…

A big pile of M’eh… Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the NBA Trade Deadline…

February 20, 2010 1 comment

So, it was a blustery storm and yes, a branch or two were relocated, but in the end… m’eh.  The big, capital B, capital I, capital G, BIG winner was Cleveland, because they’re the only title contender that improved. However, beyond that for the second season in a row, the deadline felt a little flat. That multiple teams could have improved their playoff chances by making a move, was mitigated by many of those same teams being hamstrung by the luxury tax, so as it always does in the NBA, money ruled the day and talent was a distant, distant second. Whatever, lets break it down:

Winners:

Cleveland – This was an easy slam dunk for the Cavs. They acquired Antawn Jamison and the corpse of the prospect known as Sebastian Telfair, for a month without Zydrunas Ilgauskas (It’s a guarantee that Washington will buy him out), a guy who will never play in the NBA (Emir Preldzic), and the last pick in this year’s first round… Jamison isn’t as good as Pau Gasol, so this wont be looked at in quite the same light, but the Cavs stole Jamison the way the Lakers stole Gasol two years ago. They didn’t even have to include J.J. Hickson to make the deal.

Some believed that the Cavs should have been targeting Amare Stoudemire over Jamison, but as you know, I felt Jamison was a better fit. We already know that the Shaq-Amare frontcourt partnership was a dubious one. Plus, Amare needs the ball in his hands more than Jamison, and when you have LeBron you want the ball is his hands as much as possible. Also, Jamison is a better shooter, which allows the Cavs to have better spacing. Finally, Amare, for all his prodigious gifts, operates in the lane where LeBron needs to get, and where Shaq already clogs.

Those in favor of Amare pointed to his age as a reason to target him over Jamison. Amare is 27, Jamison 33, so the theory goes that acquiring Amare gave the Cavs a second banana to pair with James long term. The problem with that is that while Jamison is older, he also hasn’t suffered the same major injuries that Amare has. Last year Stoudemire suffered a detached retina, which would seem like a fluke one off, but he has also had microfracture surgery and that’s definitely not a one off. So, I think the age argument isn’t as straight forward as it seems.

There are only two downsides to this deal for the Cavs. The first is that it will cost owner Dan Gilbert something like fifty million after the luxury tax, but if he doesn’t care, we certainly shouldn’t care. The second is that it colossally screws Cleveland if LeBron were to leave this summer, but of course Cleveland will be colossally screwed anyhow, so that’s hardly an issue created by this deal.

Dallas – I think the Mavs cleaned up. They improved at two positions, with Brendan Haywood a strong defensive presence and big body at center and Caron Butler taking over for Josh Howard, who was finding that basketball was getting in the way of his hangovers.

All season Butler has been playing like someone pooped in his shoe, but he’s a talented youngster and getting out of that toxic situation in the Capital will rejuvenate his play. My only concern with the Mavs right now, would be their defense at the two, where Butler and Shawn Marion will have to cover mobile shooters. Still, I think this puts them firmly in the conversation for the two seed in the West.

Houston – This is why I love the NBA deadline, because strange things happen. We knew that the Rockets were going to move McGrady and we knew that Kevin Martin was in play, but we never knew that those two could come together like they did. This deal is quite similar to the one I proposed last week in which New York used a third team to entice Houston to take Jared Jeffries, but Kevin Martin is better for Houston than Jamison. In Martin they get a shooter and scorer who should help them make the playoffs this year and pair perfectly with Yao next year.

Jeffries is grossly overpaid, but if you aren’t concerned with the money, then his length makes him a useful enough defender, especially if the playoff path in the West involves traveling through the Lakers. Plus, he’s an expiring deal next year, so that has value. Giving up Landry’s a bit of a wrench, but overall the Rockets are a much better team this morning than they were yesterday morning.

Portland – A simple move, that cost them nothing off next year’s team. Marcus Camby should help them make the playoffs and keep the franchise momentum they’re trying to build, although if Brandon Roy can’t get healthy then it will hardly matter.

Losers:

Boston and Orlando – I guess you could include Atlanta in here as well, but I don’t think they were knocking off the Cavs anyway. So, neither Eastern Conference contender did anything to get stronger (and no, I haven’t forgotten that the Celtics picked up Nate Robinson), while the Cavs added a significant piece. As I wrote last week, I think Boston is primed for a first round upset, so it’s really only Orlando who could still knock off the Cavs. They have the talent, but their chances today look worse than their chances yesterday.

Miami – Two days ago I pegged the Heat’s odds of signing LeBron James at 14.5%, but after yesterday’s action I’d drop that under five. I think they’re effectively done in the LeBron-stakes. Worse, I think they might end up in a real dog fight just to keep their own guy. The math:

– Chicago is Wade’s hometown.

– Wade is the player whose game most resembles a certain former Bulls’ player.

– Chicago cleared enough space to add Wade.

– Miami has put various poo-poo platters around Wade for three years now.

– Wade has seemed outwardly frustrated with Heat management all season.

– Miami couldn’t draw a crowd to watch Lindsey Vonn ski naked.

Add it all up and I say the Heat are in hot water.

Phoenix – The Suns are in a dog fight for the playoffs and while two of their competitors got better, they just spent two weeks dragging their second best player’s name through the mud. Bravo, guys. Brav-O.

Indifferent:

Chicago – The Bulls cleared enough space to go after a big name, but not enough for a second piece. This is a victory for them, but I think they’d have finagled the extra room without much trouble this summer and in doing so now they might have hurt their playoff chances. Both of their moves arguably made their opponents for the last two playoff spots stronger, so it was a weird deadline for the Bulls.

Charlotte – A protected one gives Larry Brown the chance to work with the talented, but enigmatic, Tyrus Thomas. It could backfire and he could leave this summer, but that’s why the pick’s protected. It’s a good gamble, but hardly boner inducing.

Milwaukee – They acquired John Salmons from Chicago to shore up their two guard spot. I like the initiative to push for that eighth playoff spot, but… Salmons? Really? Him?

Sacramento – I like that they picked up the underrated Carl Landry, but why didn’t they take on Jeffries’ contract and get pieces like Hill and the 2012 Knicks’ pick? I’m not sure what they’re doing with the space this season.

LA Clippers – The Clips made a couple moves to clear some extra space for this summer, which is great, because now they have enough cap room to go get LeBron. And on an unrelated note, next week I’m asking Natalie Portman out…

Inconclusive:

New York – Wow, we all knew that the Knicks were desperate to move Jeffries and I think including Hill was the right move, but… Hill, swapping picks in 2011 and giving up your pick in 2012… Yikes, that’s a lot. For me to make them winners here it’s going to have to translate into a serious free agent bonanza. Say for instance, that the Knicks strike out on the LeBron gang and instead, desperate to have something to show for two years of misery, re-sign David Lee to a near max deal, and then sign Rudy Gay to a max deal. Then, after the inevitable mediocre seasons of fighting for the eighth spot in the playoffs, they very well could be giving Houston their lottery pick from last year, Utah their lottery pick this year, Houston a lottery pick next year, and just for good measure, Houston a lottery pick in 2012. Again… Yikes.

On the other hand if they are able to sign the King and Chris Bosh and those two guys whet the championship appetite of some others, then I’ll be singing a different tune (more cats being tortured, than say nails on a blackboard). So, with LeBron and Bosh onboard, say Marcus Camby wants to play for a title and wants the opportunity to play in New York again (which he loved the first time around). Then say, Ray Allen looks at his bank account and goes, yeah, I’ve made enough, why not… And lets assume they round out the roster with seasoned vets like Joe Smith, Raja Bell, Steve Blake, and Ben Wallace. Now, look at what they have.

PG – S. Rodriguez, S. Blake
SG – R. Allen, R. Bell, B. Walker
SF – L. James, D. Gallinari, W. Chandler
PF – C. Bosh, J. Smith
C – M. Camby, B. Wallace, (and E. Curry – not actually with the team, lest he eat LeBron)

The roster’s maybe a little old, perhaps they’d want to find some younger legs to fill the spots of Smith and Wallace, but overall I think we can agree that the Knicks are favorites in the East and giving the Lakers a run for the title. And, the most important name on that list, besides James and Bosh, is actually Eddy Curry, who despite being too fat to actually fit through the door of the arena, becomes valuable this summer as an expiring contract (at which point I’d start the “Free Steve Nash” campaign).

So, suddenly those picks the Knicks sent to Houston wouldn’t seem so bad. There would be no swap in 2011, because the Knicks would have the better record and they’d be sending the 30th pick Houston’s way in 2012.

So, you can see how this grade has to be inconclusive, right?

Washington – Bill Simmons has been tweeting like mad about how with his two trades Ernie Grunfeld got pansed while looking the other way, but I have a question for Bill: what else was Ernie supposed to do? My only real complaint about Grunfeld’s work here is that he should have received J.J. Hickson in the Jamison deal, but for all the talk of Hickson, it’s not as if he’s the re-incarnation of Moses Malone.

As I asked the other day, why would the Wizards have kept the Butler-Jamison duo? That’s the same core that lead them to 19 wins last year. They should pay luxury tax for a 19 win team? And Bill, what exactly were they supposed to get for those two? Again, they’re the best players on a team that won NINETEEN games last year. You can make all the excuses you want, but nobody was giving anything of value for either guy. Grunfeld’s mistake, besides of course giving out those contracts in the first place, was not moving Butler at last year’s deadline when the Trailblazers would have given them some talent for him.

So why inconclusive? Well, clearing the crap from the shoe is only the first step in cleaning the mess. The real question, is what one does with the empty shoe. Bill has mocked Washington creating cap space, because nobody’s going to want to join Arenas, which is true, but there are two things to consider here. First, moving Arenas is impossible now, but it might be possible this summer when the free agent dust has settled. Again, I’m not saying I’d trade for him, I’m just saying that when Miami loses Wade, strikes out on Joe Johnson and has a half empty building and nobody on their payroll, well… as Bill well knows teams often need to be saved from themselves.

Second, as the Zombie Sonics have shown, cap space can be used without signing free agents. So, Washington can use that space to take free players from team’s trying to avoid the luxury tax. A high draft pick this year and next year, and some savvy use of the cap, and the Wizards can rebound faster than people think. Now, whether Grunfeld is the right man to make those moves is an entirely different, and legitimate, question.

The Summer of LeBron…

February 16, 2010 Leave a comment

This is a column that Cleveland Cavalier fans will hate and, frankly, I can’t blame them. For the better part of two years, they have had to deal with every Tom, Dick, and Nancy postulating about where their superstar will land this summer. Column after column, question after question to broadcasters, the barrage of “LeBron is leaving” commentary has been enough to make most Clevelanders yearn for the safe quaint days of the Drew Carrey Show. And yet, the hits just keep coming, for while there have been engaging storylines in the NBA over the last two years, none of them have had the staying power or importance of the Summer of LeBron.

Look Cleveland, I understand, really I do. When the Jays started taking offers for Roy Halladay last summer I spent a solid week vomiting into my mouth. It was awful then, it was awful this winter when the talk resumed, and it was awful when they finally moved him. After reading the package that they received for Doc, I spent another solid week hitting my head against anything hard in hopes of numbing the pain. So yes, believe me Cleveland, I get it, I really do, and while I love Doc with an unholy masculine passion, even I acknowledge that there’s two differences between that situation and Cleveland’s.

First, LeBron leaving Cleveland would be a ‘NBC adjusting its late night schedule’ level disaster for the Cavs, while the Jays trading Doc was probably the best thing for both him and the team. Second, while Doc’s arguably the best pitcher in baseball right now, LeBron might soon be the best player in basketball, well… ever (calm down, calm down, I’m not saying he is, or will be, better than MJ, I’m merely saying it’s possible). So, I understand how this is a thousand times worse for Clevelanders, with the situation only exacerbated by the fact that LeBron’s a local boy.

Unfortunately, all that empathy and five dollars will get you a frothy, whip cream covered, burnt coffee drink from Starbucks, because it doesn’t change the fact that in four plus months LeBron James will be a free agent. Unlike any other great player in the history of the game, LeBron will have the opportunity to control his destiny at the age of 25. Imagine that, the chance to sign the best player in the game before he enters his prime. That’s what makes this the single most important story line in the NBA.

Of course, it’s not just LeBron, there’s also Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson, Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer (and potentially Dirk Nowitzki, although he’d have to leave 21 million on the table – it’s more likely that he’ll sign an extension with Dallas), but the piece teams are angling for, the piece New York fans have been enduring two years of Larry Hughes and Al Harrinton in anticipation of, is LeBron James.

That’s why this is the Summer of LeBron and that’s why this column is a breakdown of his potential landing spots. Remember that the percentages attached to these destinations have been carefully determined by me after hundreds of hours in conversation with LeBron himself… and by LeBron himself I mean some serious smelling salts and his puppet from those Nike ads… and by his puppet from those Nike ads, I really mean an old sock of mine that I sowed some buttons on… Too much information? Ahhhh… Uhhmmm… lets just move on.

These cities know that they have no chance:

Memphis, Toronto (right now I’d peg the Raptors’ chances at 40% that they keep their own superstar), Sacramento, Milwaukee, Indiana, Minnesota, Golden State (How poorly run are the Warriors? They are in one of the most beautiful regions in the U.S., they have one of the largest markets, and, well, even the Clippers got themselves half a percent, know what I’m saying?), Denver, Philadelphia, Detroit, Washington (if they’d actually been able to void Gilbert’s contract and traded the rest of their roster for cap space, they might have been an intriguing option for the James Gang), Charlotte, Atlanta, Utah.

These cities might have been a destination for LeBron, but they just don’t have the money or assets to make it happen:

Boston, Phoenix (how great would Nash running with LeBron be?), San Antonio (probably never an option, but it’s a testament to the Spurs success that I list them here), Portland, Orlando, New Orleans (again, might be too small of a market, but there’s Chris Paul and the Post-Katrina hero factor).

The Not Bloody Likely:

0.25% – The Zombie Sonics – they have the cap space to sign him (or depending on the exact cap number, could easily get the space), they have a player whom I believe will be second only to LeBron over the next decade, and a solid looking core of Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green, and James Hardin. So why only a quarter of a percent? Did I mention that the team is located in Oklahoma?

0.5% – LA Clippers – As Bill Simmons has noted in the past, the Clippers are almost the perfect location for LeBron. Obviously Los Angeles is a choice market and despite their history of ineptitude, the Clippers have a core of young guys (Eric Gordon, Blake Griffin), a savvy veteran to take some of the pressure of leading off the King (Baron Davis), and a caveman (Chris Kaman). The problem? How about Donald Sterling and the Clipper curse? Sterling’s been so bad that there’s really no chance that LeBron chooses LA’s alternate team.

So, why half a percent? Well it’s possible that after another season of ineptitude, a deranged Clippers fan will end up murdering Sterling in the middle of the team’s home finale. In that case, the NBA would be forced to take immediate action by auctioning off the team. It would be purchased by some cavalier young billionaire like Mark Zuckerberg, who would hire Simmons as GM. Simmons would immediately start changing the culture of the team by renaming them to the Los Angeles LeBroners, giving them new uniforms with a picture of LeBron’s outline, and, well… you get the picture.

1.00% – Houston Rockets – It’s really unlikely, but can’t be discounted because Houston is a big market and they’ve shown themselves to be a savvy organization who would be committed to winning. Plus, if LeBron is looking for global domination, you can’t discount the Yao factor.

2.5% – New Jersey Nets – At one time the Nets were considered a legitimate dark horse in the LeBron-stakes, but their move to Brooklyn is still in a state of flux, their owner is probably, possibly(?) an unknown Russian billionaire, and their current roster is setting an all time pace of ineptitude. So, while they have bundles of cap space, there’s not much drawing LeBron to New Jersey except maybe the chance to hang out with Jay Z’s wife.

2.75% – Dallas Mavericks – The Mavs can’t be completely discounted, because Mark Cuban is such a dynamic, popular owner that Dallas has become a popular free-agent destination. While they wont have any cap space, the Mavs do have assets that they could offer Cleveland in a sign and trade were LeBron determined to leave.

4.5% – LA Lakers – Some have floated the possibility of the Lakers acquiring LeBron in a sign and trade in which Kobe goes the other way. That’s NEVER happening. You might be able to identify the warts in Kobe’s game, and I can definitely identify the warts in Kobe’s game, but Lakers fans? They would riot if he were swapped, even for LeBron. But, I have to give it 4.5 percent, because if James decided that he wanted to pair with Kobe, then the Lakers could make a reasonable sign and trade package that starts with Andrew Bynum. Unlikely, but possible.

The Contenders:

14% – New York Knicks – If the Knicks are able to drop Jared Jeffries’ contract in the next two days, I would bump this up considerably. As things stand now though, the Knicks will have trouble adding LeBron and forming any sort of strong team around him. They have the space for him, but even if David Lee re-ups, who plays the point? Who plays center? Who plays shooting guard? LeBron will always attract talented aging vets hunting a ring, and thus willing to sign for the veteran minimum, but that’s a lot of starters, let alone bench pieces. Now, if they clear the space for a significant running mate, then get back to me.

14.5% – Miami Heat – The trendy pick right now, and it’s possible, but… I don’t know, I just don’t see it. The problem is that if James goes there, it will always be Wade’s team. I don’t mean that like I don’t think the two of them would be phenomenal teammates, I do. It’s just that I think for that to occur, they’d have to join forces in a neutral site (see below). Otherwise, why would James want to join a mediocre fan base in a marginal sports city. Yes, players love visiting Miami, but it doesn’t do much to push LeBron’s global image, especially if he’s Wade’s running mate, as opposed to the other way around.

19.9% – Chicago Bulls – It has been a bleak decade for the Bulls post-MJ, but suddenly there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Chicago has the money to add a significant piece this offseason and if they can move Kirk Hinrich’s nine million salary this week, then they’ll have enough money to add two pieces. Some have speculated that LeBron wouldn’t want to follow in Jordan’s footsteps, but I think the statute of limitations on the reign of number 23 ended with the decade. If you look at the pieces that the Bulls already have in place (Derrick Rose, Joachim Noah, Luol Deng, Taj Gibson), and if they’re able to finagle the space to sign a major second piece (local boy Wade, Bosh, Joe Johnson, heck even Amare or Boozer would be insane) then you can see how this could become an exceedingly enticing place for James to choose.

Just for the sake of argument, lets assume that Boston gets desperate in the next two days and makes a rash trade with Chicago of Ray Allen and Glen Davis for Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich (for the record, I doubt Boston takes on that much money, but teams get desperate as the deadline approaches). If they then decline the qualifying offer to Tyrus Thomas and renounce their other free agents (Brad Miller, Jerome James, Lindsay Hunter, do you want to get rid of them? Gee, let me think, uhmmm… sure), then this summer they will have close to 40 million in cap room. If LeBron, Wade, and Bosh really do want to team up together (and they seemed to pair pretty naturally in Sunday’s allstar game), then this is their best situation. They would each have to take slightly less than the maximum contract (risky given that max contracts could drastically decline with the next bargaining agreement), but if they intend to join forces, that would be the case anywhere. After these unlikely, but feasible, moves Chicago has a roster that looks like this:

PG – D. Rose,
SG – D. Wade, J. Salmons
SF – L. James, J. Johnson
PF – C. Bosh, T. Gibson
C – J. Noah, G. Davis

I know what you’re saying, that’s only nine guys, how can you have a team with only nine guys? But, of course, if you have Rose, Wade, LeBron, and Bosh you’d find the other three guys on veteran minimum contracts P… D… F… (say, Luke Ridnour to back up the point, Adonal Foyle as some bench beef, and Kyle Korver for late game shooting… or maybe Ray Allen is ready to play out the string as the veteran presence on this team). Really, all that team needs is phenomenal offensive coach who can manipulate all this talent into an all-time combination. Oh, I don’t know, perhaps a coach like the one pulling his hair out in New York… Actually, who am I kidding, a banana wearing a top hat and a tie could “coach” this team to 70 wins.

The Champ:

40.1% – Cleveland Cavaliers – Relax Cav fans, I actually think you might be better than fifty percent, but either way you are prohibitive favorites. Why? Well, in the age of globalization and prolific information, it really doesn’t much matter what size of market you’re in. What’s holding LeBron back at this point is that small portion of the public that wont anoint him the best until he wins a title. So, I think he’s less likely to leave Cleveland for a bigger market, than for a better opportunity for championships. And where exactly can offer him that? Oklahoma and the Clippers. Yeah, ‘nough said. So, the Cavs have to watch out for the Bulls, but I think the other options out there don’t bring enough talent to the table.

Plus, there are solid odds that LeBron wins a title for Cleveland this year and if he does, I think the percentage that he re-signs with them jumps to over 80%. So, don’t pound your head into hard objects yet Clevelanders. Remember, it’s not over until the fat guy in glasses starts signing… and he’s still busy asking strangers to guess the price of consumer products.

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