James’ sweepstakes winner anyone’s guess
Let the sweepstakes — and the speculation — begin. LeBron James is in the free agent market and his suitors appear to be evident.
The Cleveland Cavaliers certainly will be in the hunt to keep their two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, but loyalty and the unfulfilled dream of bring a championship to his hometown team may not be enough.
The Cavs could offer him more control in acquiring personnel and maybe even ownership once he hits retirement. All the teams are willing to pay the maximum in salary including Cleveland, but there was some discord in the locker room between James and another player after the loss to the Celtics.
Let’s face it, LeBron would be fine in Cleveland if the Cavaliers can get a respectful center to replace the Shaq and Ilguaskas, the two-headed plan that belongs on Social Security.
Others on James’ short list include the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, New Jersey Nets and New York Knicks.
The Nets and Knicks don’t have the players right now to make for a championship run even with James, but don’t rule them out. A lot of people and players inside the NBA have said James isn’t as driven to win a championship as those before him like Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant.
Many say James is about personal accomplishments, much like the attitude of AAU players.
The Nets have the glitz of a billionaire new owner and James’ pal Jay-Z to go with some young talent that makes them a better sale than New York.
The Clippers have a good, young roster that would fit well around James, i.e. Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman and Baron Davis.
And if the Clippers have a good support group, the Bulls is even better with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich.
The Heat could lose superstar Dwayne Wade to free agency, but James and Wade are good friends and would love to play together, either in Cleveland or Miami. If Pat Riley returns as coach, that Heat might be the frontrunners.
So where does James ultimately go? That may not be decided until some other moves are made that directly influence James’ decision.
Your guess is as good as mine, and I can’t see any clear-cut winner.
Just like any other sweepstakes.
Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.