Free Agency is Here!

The Courtship of LeBron James


By: NBASCOUT / Special to netsinteractive.com

As you read this, we are less than an hour into Free Agency and, of course, there is nothing to report. The summer of LeBron is officially underway and the Nets, as reported, will get first crack at meeting with the \”King\” to get him to consider their cause.*

Adding to this overhyped atmosphere of heightened expectations is the real possibility of landing Mr. James. Mr. Prokhorov and his team know what it takes to win.

In this case, the medium is the message. No team has an owner that can do for LeBron what Mikhail Prokhorov can.

You don\’t have to sell the opportunity. It\’s there for the best free agents if they want it.

Mikhail\’s global vision and drive to be the best has to challenge LeBron to want to take it up. In the end, the choice is LeBron\’s.

Mikhail will build a global dynasty in Brooklyn starting in Newark. Does LeBron want to be part of it and is he up to the challenge?

NEWS UPDATE (1:30 E.T.): The meeting came and went. Prokhorov, Jay-Z and the entire Nets entourage arrived in Akron at 11:00am and met for one and a half hours.

Longtime pal Jay-Z stayed behind with LeBron for a little bit. Coach Avery Johnson expressed the sentiment that the meeting \”went well.\” Prokhorov agreed.

Now, while the Nets may be strong candidates still in the thick of things, my feeling is that because of the order of the meetings (Nets first), it initially meant that LeBron\’s managers believe that the Nets are a strong third option, but that Chicago and Cleveland (meeting last) have the slight edge. It remains to be seen whether LeBron is a homebody who is scared of the bright lights of the big city or whether he believes that home is where the heart is.

I can\’t see LeBron living in the shadow of Michael Jordan. Chicago fans will always compare him to Michael if he falls short.

The Nets have had their shot at King James so far and unless I hear strong noise from LeBron in follow any time soon (like by Monday or sooner), I would probably be content to fall back to plan B and see who is ready to join the team now.

\”A bird in hand is worth two in the bush.\” Gay, Lee or others beckon.

(UPDATE 3:12 E.T.) Rudy Gay has agreed to re-up with Memphis for 5 years at the max. The Nets should now consider Bosh (who I think prefers sun belt states) or Lee.

Any package with Dwayne Wade wouldn\’t work because of his age. I\’d rather sign Lee alone than Bosh and Wade.

(3:30 E.T.) Some are reporting that the meeting went extremely well. \”Tremendous\” was one of the adjectives.

If so, then the Nets should stay homed in and hope for the best. They can pair Bosh (if LBJ wants him) or Lee with the King.

(UPDATE 11:11 E.T.) Latest word is that meetings all went well. There is a lot of cautious optimism in Netsland.

According to some, LeBron James was \”blown away\” by the Nets presentation, but would like to see them prepare to clear enough cap space to bring aboard two max players.

With that in mind the Nets have tentative plans to further deplete their power forward depth by moving reserve PF Kris Humphries to another team, if need be, for cap space and some combination of cash and/or picks as required and necessary.

That\’d still leave the Nets about half a million short of where they need to be, but there\’s always Quinton Ross\’ contract (the guy that came from WAS for Yi) to consider for cap room.

My view from here is that all-Star PF David Lee would probably work out better alongside Brook Lopez and LeBron James than Chris Bosh for many reasons (fit, style and willingness to play without the ball among them) but mainly because the Nets already have Derrick Favors (another athletic Chris Bosh-type). However, if bringing Bosh aboard at the max is what it\’ll take to make LeBron come aboard, it\’ll still work out magnificently and be a win-win proposition all the way around.

(UPDATE 7.3.10 @ 9:15 E.T.)Cleveland and then Chicago met with LeBron today. All of LeBron\’s meetings are now in the books.

The Nets obviously made a very compelling case for themselves. LeBron has a lot to think about.

I suspect that only New Jersey, Miami, Chicago and Cleveland are still in the running. Of those teams, LeBron has to weigh the trade offs of going with one versus any other. There is no timetable for his making a decision, but some indications have been that he\’d like to reach a conclusion by Monday, if he can.

The only thing left for the Nets to do now is wait for some word from LeBron\’s camp. In the meantime the Nets coaching staff readies the team for the Orlando Summer League.

Apparently, the Nets feel confident in their pitch that they are going to wait on the results before making any other moves. It\’s entirely possible that if the Nets are passed over by James and/or Bosh, they may opt to see if offensively and reboundingly gifted, but defensively questionable, David Lee might fit on terms that may make sense for both sides or simply wait for next years crop of Al Horford, Carmelo Anthony and Big Baby.

With 18 year-old rookie PF Derrick Favors showing that he may be able to improve offensively and answer the Nets needs at the Power Forward slot during the upcoming season, a rotation of PG Harris, SG Courtney Lee, SF Terrance Williams, PF Derrick Favors and C Brook Lopez doesn\’t begin to sound so bad after all under Coach Avery Johnson\’s wing.

I like the acquisition of undrafted rookies Duke C Brian Zoubek, a New Jersey native, and Tulsa PG Ben Uzoh, both fundamentally sound players. I also like that former Celtics and USC PG Gabe Pruitt is in camp.

Finally, I seem to recall some tape of SF Damion James I saw long ago. He is unique in his toughness and manner in which he takes up space … sort of like … a mini LeBron-lite. He can turn out well, but the Nets probably could have saved a few dollars and taken him at #27 along with another player to round out the roster.

NBASCOUT is an independent freelance sportswriter that covers the NBA and the New Jersey Nets. He is not affiliated with the National Basketball Association. Copyright 2010 by NBASCOUT, all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the express written consent of the author. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and not necessarily this website. You may e-mail NBASCOUT in care-of his wife, who writes for children, at kathyforkids@cs.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *