So LeBron James is unofficially officially going to be a free agent come July 1, according to his agent, Rich Paul.
If history is any indicator, this means that LeBron is ready to embark on a series of sales pitches, looking to be wowed, trying to find the next place to continue to build his resume and continue his chase of Michael Jordan. Back in 2010, LeBron was on many a radar, wound up meeting with six teams (Miami, Cleveland, Chicago, Los Angeles Clippers, New York, and New Jersey), and ultimately chose to "take his talents to South Beach."
This time around, if LeBron winds up playing footsies with teams, the list will look similar to 2010's, with the main changes being the likely elimination of the two New York area teams and the addition of your Houston Rockets.
Yes, the Rockets are firmly in the LeBron conversation. It's amazing what four years and the addition of two All-Stars can do.
While being "in the mix" is fun, the Rockets are generally considered a long shot to land James' services (+1000, according to sportsbook.ag). The Heat are still prohibitive favorites to keep James, at least for one more season, with odds at -600.
(For the record, my prediction is that James ultimately inks a deal with Miami that allows him to opt out again this time next year. No chance he locks in for multiple years in a scenario where Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are the two next best players. One more year in Miami gives Pat Riley a chance to re-tool the supporting cast.)
Second on the list of teams in line to land James, oddly enough, is his former employer the Cleveland Cavaliers at +500. James' leaving Miami and returning to the franchise that he was perceived to have stabbed in the back in 2010 would be the equivalent of any of you returning to your ex-wife after a torrid four year affair with Kate Upton. (Oh, also, your ex-wife in this analogy is Rosie O'Donnell.)
A James return to the state of Ohio feels a bit odd, but so long as they're considered a shorter putt than the Rockets in LeBron Watch, I will pull out whatever weaponry is necessary in order to somehow plunder the Cavaliers' efforts.
So LeBron, allow me to point you to Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert's letter to you the night that you chose to go to Miami back in 2010. Search your feelings, LeBron. See those scars? Those are Gilbert's doing. His words hurt you, LeBron. Those scars are his words, and if scars had fonts your scars would be in Comic Sans.
Remember how it all went, LeBron? Oh, you don't? Well, let's go back and look. In fact, let's Zapruder Dan Gilbert's Decision-night correspondence with you....
Dear Cleveland, All Of Northeast Ohio and Cleveland Cavaliers Supporters Wherever You May Be Tonight;
Semicolon as Gilbert's ending punctuation on the greeting, foreshadowing that this will not go very well if you're from Cleveland (or if you're an English teacher)....
As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier.
This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his "decision" unlike anything ever "witnessed" in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.
GILBERT NAME CALLING COUNT: 2 (former hero, narcissistic)
I like how Gilbert fancies himself an expert in the area of self-promotion history, not only in the world of sports but also the world of entertainment. (To be fair, he's a little less certain about the world of entertainment than he is sports, labeling LeBron's self-promotion prowess there as "probably" unlike anything we've "witnessed." And yes, we see what you did there with the quotes around "witness," Danny boy.)
Clearly, this is bitterly disappointing to all of us.
The good news is that the ownership team and the rest of the hard-working, loyal, and driven staff over here at your hometown Cavaliers have not betrayed you nor NEVER will betray you.
Um, "nor NEVER." Ok.
Also, "over here at your hometown Cavaliers." If ever a phrase made an NBA team sound like a Buick dealership or a local one-man insurance office, it's anything including "your hometown" in front of it.
There is so much more to tell you about the events of the recent past and our more than exciting future. Over the next several days and weeks, we will be communicating much of that to you.
Translated: "If you only knew what a pain in the ass LeBron has been to deal with, your knees would buckle. Trust me, you don't know the half of it! Also, we have some exciting new ideas for the upcoming season! Sure there's no LeBron, but we will be having at least four "Dollar Dog" nights where frankfurters are only a buck!
You simply don't deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.
You have given so much and deserve so much more.
NAME CALLING COUNT: 3 (cowardly)
Also worth mentioning that Gilbert has gotten off three forms of the word "betray" at this point, as well. Some pretty solid petty bitterness. Continuing....
In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:
Oh dear, here it comes...
"I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER 'KING' WINS ONE"
No, you didn't....
You can take it to the bank.
Yes, he did....
If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our "motivation" to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.
NAME CALLING COUNT: 5 (shameful, selfishness...and a bonus "betrayal"!)
I love Gilbert's categorization of heightened motivation levels going to previously "unknown" and "never experienced" levels, as if the 2010-2011 Cavaliers will surpass any level of motivation experienced in any walk of life. First responders? A bunch of slackers. Navy SEALs? Whatever. 2010-2011 Cavaliers? UNKNOWN LEVELS OF MOTIVATION, BITCHES.
Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.
While ostensibly this sentence makes sense, there's a decent chance this is Dan Gilbert's way of telling LeBron to "go to hell" and he just butchered it.
Sorry, but that's simply not how it works.
Biblical words from the Reverend Daniel Gilbert....
This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown "chosen one" sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And "who" we would want them to grow-up to become.
NAME CALLING COUNT: 6 (disloyal)
I have to admit, Gilbert's haphazard use of quotation marks has me totally intrigued. I have no idea what the pattern depicts.
But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called "curse" on Cleveland, Ohio.
NAME CALLING COUNT: 8 (heartless, callous)
Sure, or you'll be picking first in the draft three times between 2011 and 2014. One or the other.
The self-declared former "King" will be taking the "curse" with him down south. And until he does "right" by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.
NAME CALLING COUNT: 9 (former "King")
Miami Heat, 2010-2014: 224-88 record, 4 NBA Finals appearances, 2 NBA titles
Sleep well, Cleveland.
Tomorrow is a new and much brighter day....
I PROMISE you that our energy, focus, capital, knowledge and experience will be directed at one thing and one thing only:
DELIVERING YOU the championship you have long deserved and is long overdue....
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Cleveland Cavaliers, 2010-2014: 97-215 record, no playoff appearances, three #1 overall picks
Dan Gilbert Majority Owner Cleveland Cavaliers
Trust me, we know. And we are thankful.