NBA free agency looms: LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Dirk, Stoudemire hold league hostage

It has been two full years since the talk of LeBron James leaving Cleveland for potentially greener pastures first made headlines.  With the free agency deadline finally upon us, the talk has come to a head and a lot of teams are very, very nervous.

Many fans are already tired of all the discussion, and understandably so, but personally I’m fascinated by it all: the rumors, the summits and the eventual ramifications LeBron’s decision will have on the league.  Don’t think this stuff is important?  Bloomberg recently reported that LeBron leaving the Cavaliers could cost the franchise $250 million dollars.  Hope they had fun while it lasted.

In the next few days, or weeks, we will find out what franchises will be awarded early Christmas presents named Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, David Lee, Joe Johnson and which cities will end up with nothing more than a lump of coal.

And before you get all high and mighty about the decisions these gentlemen are about to make, keep in mind, it is THEIR futures.  They have every right to make an educated decision about where they’d like to play.  Through their hard work and god-given talent, these players have set their own market value by providing their employers with a unique service.  The last time you considered a career move, didn’t you take everything, including the highest bidder, into consideration?  Think of this as the same thing, just with a few more zeros.

Many think this is bad for the league, but at the beginning of every basketball season, only a handful of NBA teams have a legitimate chance to win a title.  We’re about to see a seismic shift in who the odds makers list as favorites in 2011.

Several questions remain that it will take more than just a few new contracts to answer.

Is it good for the league that the inmates run the asylum?  Will you be more or less interested in the NBA with three of these superstars playing on the same team?

If Lebron leaves Cleveland, is that a sign of weakness, a concession that he couldn’t get it done on his own?  Is that a label he’ll ever be able to shed, even after winning elsewhere?  Fair or not, he is held to a higher standard.  Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant have eleven rings and counting and never had to leave their teams to do it.

If LeBron does leave, how will Cleveland respond when he returns in another uniform?  Would they actually boo?  Is that even conceivable?  Allen Iverson and Charles Barkley both left Philadelphia without bringing that city a title but it is commonly perceived they gave it all they had.  They’re still revered there.  Would Cleveland fans feel that way about LeBron?  Could they ever forgive him?

If two or three of these ‘super agents’ join forces, make it to the Finals and lose to Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and the Los Angeles Lakers, would the experiment be considered a failure?  And if these mega-stars align, would Phil Jackson stick around for the chance to knock them off,  knowing his perfect Finals record could be blemished?

If you weren’t already a Miami Heat fan, would you root for a team comprised of Wade, James and Bosh?  Wouldn’t that make things too easy?  It wouldn’t be like rooting for the Dream Team.  It’d be like rooting for the Yankees.

If LeBron ends up in Miami, does that make Dwyane Wade the most powerful man in the NBA?  Would Pat Riley fire Erik Spoelstra as he did Stan Van Gundy for the chance to once again roam the South Beach sidelines?  If LeBron doesn’t sign with Chicago, do the rumors of frugal ownership hold water?  If LeBron doesn’t go to the Knicks, how long before we stop calling Madison Square Garden the ‘Mecca of Basketball?’  If it’s the Mecca, why doesn’t anybody want to play there?  If LeBron leaves Cleveland, how long before they contend once again?  And if, after all this, he decides to stay in Cleveland, would we find his decision anticlimactic or would we feel a little bit better about ourselves?

Wherever these guys end up, with their decisions will inevitably come judgment, especially in LeBron’s case.  Miami, Chicago, New York, New Jersey, Cleveland, Los Angeles?  Only one fan base can end up happy.  For the rest, it will be back to the

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29 Replies to “NBA free agency looms: LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Dirk, Stoudemire hold league hostage”

  1. The problem with the NBA as opposed to MLB is that they don’t build through any kind of farm system. There are too many GMs in the NBA that just want to win now.
    I’m not a big proponent of schadenfreude, but it would bring a little smile to my face if someone like Lebron James went to another team and blew out his knee on the first day of practice. Well, maybe more than a little smile. I long for the days when a star remained with the same team throughout his career.

  2. A few things, Snake.

    Forever, the NCAA had been the NBA’s farm system. Then they came up with the NBDL to have some sort of jump step to the bigs.

    Don’t kid yourself, major league baseball owners want to win and win now just as much as basketball team owners. The league just isn’t set up that way. The Royals and Pirates can have as good a farm system as they want but it doesn’t work if the Yankees eventually just buy their players.

    So what do you make off Paul Pierce and Ray Allen’s names now being involved in all this free agency talk?

  3. I hope that Pierce is just angling for a better deal with the Cs. As for Ray, he knows that he’ll never get 18 mil per year again. I think he’ll settle for the mid-level execption. The Celtics are in desperate need of 2 centers going forward. I’m very happy that Doc Rivers is staying put. The word is that his wife said that she didn’t want him hanging around the house. She would much rather have him bringing in the 5 mil next season.

  4. We’re with you Chump! We can’t get enough of it and can’t wait until we’re old enough to hit the NBA.

    Kemp’s Kids

    p.s. What, no mention of Darko Milicic?

  5. Snake….

    I think Rivers’ return bodes well for keeping most of that team intact.

    Assuming a relaxing summer, most of your guys should come back healthy to give it one more run.

  6. Drew…

    While Prohkorov and Jay-Z are ridin’ around Crooklyn in their Escalade, Darko and Joe Dumars are cruisin’ in their Caprice Classic.

  7. Good point about MSG being the “mecca of basketball,” should they strike out this offseason (which I think is kind of likely). Maybe Lebron and Bosh go to the Nets and Newark, NJ becomes the new basketball mecca? Murder capital and basketball mecca all rolled into one!

    Good read though Chris and thanks for checking out netdugout.

    And yes Riley will definitely jump back to the sidelines to ride coat tails to another ring. It is what all good scum-bag Lakers’ coaches (current and prior) do.

  8. Still though, Al, these owners are grown men. They know what they’re getting into when they sign these checks.

    If they don’t they should learn how to better scout talent.

  9. Ry…

    I didn’t see a blogroll on netdugout but I’d be interested in exchanging links.

    And listen, I’m FROM New York. But the Knicks haven’t fielded a good team in ages.

    Elite players always say playing at the Garden is a great experience but why does nobody want to sign there and revive that franchise?

    So just like New York, the Garden must be a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to play there, huh?

    And what happens with Spoelstra? Does Van Gundy now bring him on an assistant?

  10. I’ve been listening/reading all day! Awesome stuff for us rumor hungry people. I think all the uncertainty is great! Everyone has hope, it’s kind of like at the beginning of a baseball or football season, everyone has a chance, sort of…

    I don’t know who will end up where, I just know the Warriors won’t be involved.

    What do you think of Joe’s contract? Sounds pretty ridiculous to me! If a guy like Darko can make $20M I have a feeling a guy like Jefferson should be able to improve on the $15M he opted out on!

  11. Chap…

    One of the points I mentioned in the piece, which I think rings true, is that, at the beginning of every season, there’s really only a handful of teams that have a shot to win a title. Rarely do we see an NBA team come from out of nowhere to win it all, unless they make some uncanny trades mid-season.

    Next season will be the same. The only difference is that Las Vegas doesn’t know yet who to make the favorite based on rosters that might show different looks on opening day.

    And re: Jefferson, I think he hurt himself this past post-season. San Anton expected him to be a steady scorer and he was far from that.

  12. I hear Joe Dumars now wants to bail on Detroit and join the Big Russian (and Jay-Z) in Jersey! Perhaps Joe D thinks Prohkorov hasn’t heard about the path of destruction that he created during the past few years in the Motor City (bouncing Billups, extending Rip, signing Villanueva, Gordon and Wilcox etc.).

    Also, did Steve Nash go to the Knicks along with Amar’e? Did I miss that story? Who is going to be passing Stoudemire the ball in NY?

  13. Shaq to the Hawks? If so, that one actually makes some sense. Although several years past his prime, Shaq can still take up space and be a factor against centers like Howard, Ming and Oden.

  14. Is it Joe D that wants out of town or is it Detroit that wants him out more? Maybe he’s just afraid, rioters will eventually camp out outside his door, demanding he leave town.

    Heck, Joe D. I wanna work for Mikey Prokhorov too. I am THIS close to becoming a global icon.

    And I think the Knicks are going to call up Charlie Ward to resolve their PG problems.

  15. Shaq to the Hawks? Where are you getting these rumors, dude?

    Drew… step AWAY from ESPN’s NBA free agent-o-meter. It’s making you delirious.

    I hadn’t heard about Shaq to Atlanta. I don’t see how they could pick up his contract. Besides, that young team is way too fast for him.

    Shaq no longer speak ‘fastbreak’ or ‘transition.’

  16. Firstly, how about that Mike Miller to the Heat deal? Geez, Miami is the place to be, huh? And now, rumors are floating about Shaq willing to take a min deal to go back to Miami and play with them? Ridiculous..

    Secondly, what is up with Dan Gilbert and Mark Jackson? Ok, I understand Gilbert being pissed off because Bron Bron ain’t coming back but to go off and say that the guy quit on the team during the playoffs? If that’s the case, why would you want a guy back on your team that quit on you? Why didn’t he mention any of this stuff before? What a freakin’ whiner. I don’t blame him for being upset for getting dissed on worldwide tv, that’s understandable but who the hell knows what’s going on being closed doors? Jeff Van Gundy says that Lebron may regret the way he did this but maybe ownership had screwed with Lebron behind closed doors to the point that Lebron didn’t care how he made his move. Lebron gave 7 years of his heart and soul to the Cavs; can’t fault him for wanting to make a move. He doesn’t owe the Cavs a damn thing. So for Gilbert to bash the guy and then try to gain public sentiment against him?? Screw Gilbert – – I think he’s classless himself and as a player, that would make me think thrice about going to Cleveland in free agency or otherwise. And then Mark Jackson just fawning all over Lebron and saying that Lebron handled this whole situation with poise and class and that he had his kids watching this last night and explained to them that this is the way a player should handle himself? Are you freakin’ kidding me? The one thing out of this situation I agree with is that as a regular Cleveland citizen and/or fan, this fiasco ripped your heart out. I remember when Shaq left Orlando – your boy was entirely devastated. But Shaq leaving didn’t have near the drama that this had so I imagine my heartbreak times 20 for the average Cavs fan. So Mark Jackson thinks this is the classy way to handle the situation? Good Lord, next thing you know he’ll be advocating daily drinking of Goose & cranberry as one of the best health tonics out there…. Hey, wait. That wouldn’t make him such a bad guy after all.

  17. I agree with the Goose take, Donny C, but even that wouldn’t correct Jackson. But I guess someone had to come out in support of LeBron, other than LeBron. I hadn’t heard his comments. Thanks for sharin’.

    I guess the guy has the right to do whatever he wants but again, I can’t help feeling that move was weak and you’re right. Why host an hour long television special where you rip the heart out of the city that made you?

    I mean, you never did that to Orlando although Rennaissance Pointe is still quite upset about you leaving.

    I guess Rafael Furcal is the only real winner here.

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