LeBron Watch 2014: NBA Cities Everywhere Held Hostage
The man everyone is waiting for.
This is what happens when you have a league-imposed maximum salary on a player whose true worth is at least two to three times that amount --- in a league where that star player is worth about 25 to 30 incremental regular season wins -- and, when that player is a free agent, the league will stand still until that player makes his decision.
Or is it Decision, capital D?
The LeBron-imposed gridlock on NBA free agency made it through its first day on Thursday, as we are ostensibly no closer to knowing where he will choose to play basketball in 2014-2015 and beyond. It's down to the incumbent Miami Heat and the team he jilted four years ago, the Cleveland Cavaliers.
But it's not just these two cities who are affected by LeBron's decision. The ripple effect caused by James could be massive and, by my count, these are cities who wake up Friday morning awaiting a direct tremor from LeBron:
1. MIAMI HEAT 2. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS
These two are obvious. The two finalists. As a Rockets fan, I am hoping LeBron chooses Cleveland (more on this in a moment). As a chaos fan, I am hoping he goes back to Miami, so that his street turns into one of the battle scenes from Braveheart. Cleveland has spent the past 48 hours doing literally everything possible to entice James into a return to the city whose heart he smashed into 23 pieces back in 2010. Cleared out cap space (bye, Jarrett Jack), reached out to key vets (Ray Allen, Mike Miller) and even made a run at Kevin Love, which means....
3. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES ....yeah, the Timberwolves could look a LOT different if LeBron goes to Cleveland. If I'm Flip Saunders, the Love-to-Cleveland conversation starts with Andrew Wiggins.
4. HOUSTON ROCKETS If LeBron decides to take his talents to South Shore Of Lake Erie, it is widely assumed that forward Chris Bosh will accept the Rockets' four-year, $88 million offer (although one could argue he should accept it anyway, but I digress). Basically, Rockets fans are Cavs fans until LeBron makes his decision. One detail to keep in mind -- if the Rockets do go to sign Bosh, they will need to move Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin, and they have deals lined up with...
5. PHILADELPHIA 76ers ....for Lin, and....
6. NEW ORLEANS PELICANS .....for Asik.
7. DALLAS MAVERICKS As an aside, part of the reason there is a sense of urgency for LeBron's decision as relates to the Rockets is that the clock is ticking on the three-day period for them to match the Dallas Mavericks offer sheet to forward Chandler Parsons (three years, $46 million). It is generally believed that the Rockets will match the offer sheet regardless of what Bosh does, but you never know.
8. BOSTON CELTICS The Celtics are the most tangential team in this mix, but I include them because if Bosh doesn't sign with the Rockets, they're still short one desired All-Star, and it is highly possible that the Rockets could hang onto Lin with hopes of including his expiring contract in a deal to the Celtics along with multiple first-round picks.
So that's it. Just the future of eight teams and hundreds of millions of dollars hanging in the balance. In the meantime, we leave you with a montage of the insanity that is ensuing in Cleveland as of Thursday afternoon.
Constant flow of traffic coming and going past Lebron's house in Bath. Has not stopped since I got here. #LeBronWatch2014— Jon Bozeka (@JonBozeka) July 10, 2014
Cars full of waiting fans beginning to park outside LeBron James home. People driving by shouting, "Has he decided?" pic.twitter.com/20SayiHUOH— Mary Kilpatrick (@_marykilpatrick) July 10, 2014
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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