The Summer of LeBron

Reading Between The Tea Leaves


By: NBASCOUT / Special to netsinteractive.com

There is more intrigue, maneuvering and endless speculation during this offseason than any in recent memory. So many are \’swinging in the wind.\’ The Summer of LeBron is not over yet and I\’m not sure any of the principals to this compelling drama, the top free agents, want it to end any time soon or have truly made up their minds what they are going to do or where they might go if not stay put.*

Now that ESPN has leaked some of Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov\’s thinking, which may or may not pan out, the cat is somewhat out of the bag, so let me indulge in a little speculation.

One possibility is that every one of the top three, James, Wade and Bosh, with the exception of Chris Bosh, stays at home. Why? Because it is such a headache to figure out what is better that it\’s easier to stay at home to book that extra year of some $30mil in guaranteed money before the current CBA runs out to make the sweetheart deal of remaining loyal to your home team more palatable.

In the case of 29 year old Dwayne Wade, I think he truly wants to remain at home in Miami. He likes the weather and the marginally more favorable tax climate that puts more dollars in his pocket. Pat Riley is not known to lose a player he really wants. Hence, I think Dwayne wants to tease other teams, but remain at home and attract other big-name talents like Bosh and/or James to join him. Expect him to remain in Miami no matter unless Riley can\’t attract enough good talent to reload and decides to let him go to Chicago or New York.

In the matter of 26 year old Chris Bosh, I think he doesn\’t like the tax climate up in Canada and pines away for a warmer weather climate like is found in his native Texas. The idea of joining Wade down in Miami is appealing. However, it seems his priority is maximum money for an extra year that only comes by way of a trade that would have to be arranged through the Toronto Raptors. As such, he will consider a colder clime like New Jersey or Chicago if it will afford him the money. The opportunity to play alongside another marquee player that\’d bring lucrative endorsements and a winning reputation he could cash in on is a bonus that he\’d prefer as well, but the longest term contract is his priority.

As for 25 year old LeBron James, he is the key. LeBron would like to embellish his star like Michael Jordan had. He wants to be the \’main man\’ bringing any supporting cast on the team he was drafted by, if possible, to championship-after-championship like Michael had. LeBron & Co. wants to brand himself like Jordan & Co. Cleveland\’s owner has retrofitted the team with new management and a coach to LeBron\’s liking. Byron Scott has coached PG Chris Paul who LeBron apparently wants to play with. If Cleveland acquires Paul, that may be enough to keep him at home. If Chris Bosh or other top talent joins him there, that may cinch it for him to remain in Cleveland. It all hinges on whether Cleveland has the assets to make a deal with the Hornets and Raptors to bring over Chris Paul and Chris Bosh or whether LeBron is willing to play alongside any others. Of course, part of this scenario hinges on whether Paul or Bosh want to play in Cleveland, otherwise LeBron might trade Cleveland for New Jersey or Chicago. The only problem with Chicago is that he would be living in Michael Jordan\’s shadow under a rookie coach. Miami has the coach in waiting, but more serious dilution of star power issues. In New Jersey, though, LeBron could be the savior. Taking a 12-70 team to 70-12 would be quite a feat. No downside. Only upside.

6.7.10 Update @ 1:30ET:Latest reports have Bosh joining Wade in Miami with LeBron considering making it a threesome but leaning towards home. Nets will fall back to plans B or C, whatever they may be, but are considering Lee and Boozer.

Boozer has had a lot of downtime during his career due to injury. I would be inclined to look elsewhere.

Nets have enough resources to make mistakes and eventually get things right. I need a vacation now.

6.7.10 Update @ 1:30ET:
Oops! ESPN is reporting that the Nets, Cavs and Bulls are trying to sign Boozer in the hopes they\’ll land LeBron if they do.

If the Nets sign Boozer, I think ownership will will need a lot of booze to live with the results. The Nets should play what they have, keep their powder dry and see what top talent is available next year.

If the Nets can bring over some emerging talent in trade that is sensibly priced, fine. If there are some bargain free agents or Euro talent available to flesh out the roster, so be it.

I don\’t chase stocks if they get away from me. And I won\’t pay up for overpriced talent that could ruin a payroll and force the sale of a team.

I will open my wallet when superior talent wants to join my team. Avery can still win and even if Miami signs Wade, Bosh, LeBron and the D-League, they still may not be able to prevail against the Lakers, Celtics and Orlando.

Flash: Fred Kerber is reporting that the Nets don\’t expect to get LeBron and that \”Should the Nets get shut out among the elite free agents, they will look to fill out the roster with good, lesser profile players. For the three, think Mike Miller, Kyle Korver, Rasual Butler, Richard Jefferson, Matt Barnes. For the four – assuming they get locked out on Boozer or David Lee – think Udonis Haslem, Tyrus Thomas.\”

The players proposed at Small Forward [the three] I wouldn\’t touch. If Lee is pricing himself out of range and Boozer (Another Tim Thomas) wants another big contract he won\’t justify if history repeats, all I would say is go with fresh young talent. Any of the options at SF proposed herein are bad fits for New Jersey. If Tyrus Thomas wants to prove himself, I might give him a chance on sensible terms, but he may disappoint in a big way. Haslem used to be sound and may still be serviceable, but he\’ll want too much. Look Euro, undiscovered, fallen angel or emerging.

To flesh out your roster, Sasha Pavlovic, Shelden Williams and Jordan Farmar are free agents to consider. DeShawn Stevenson and Raymond Felton are others. Caveat Emptor.

P.S., Keep an eye on 6-10 F/C Connor Atchley on your Summer League roster. Maybe you have something there.

The Nets have a good coach. They had good executives and hopefully will get comparable. New ownership has the resources to eventually win big. I need to take a vacation.

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

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