Who will LeBron play for next season?

Over the past couple of weeks, our poll has asked this very question and 1,094 of our readers have responded. Here are the results:

(Click on the chart for a bigger version.)

It seems our readers believe that the Bulls are the odds on favorites to sign LeBron, with the Cavs close behind. The Knicks finished third by a pretty wide margin, with the Heat, “other” and the Nets getting a decent amount of the vote. The Clippers appear to be the biggest longshot of this group.

World Sports Exchange has set up a long-term market so that gamblers can buy and sell shares in certain teams. Here is a snapshot of the market as of 5/31/10:

A share in the team that signs LeBron is worth $100, while all other shares aren’t worth anything. So someone can buy a share of the Cavs for $33 and if Cleveland signs LeBron, the buyer would make $67 on the transaction. This market essentially says that the Cavs are a 2:1 favorite to sign LeBron, the Bulls are 7:3, the Knicks are 3:1 and the Heat are 8:1.

What’s not clear is what happens if Cleveland executes a sign-and-trade with LeBron. In that scenario, the Cavs would technically “sign” him, but his rights would be traded to his new team. The site should make the market more clear by saying “Who will LeBron play for next season?” instead of “Who will sign LeBron?”

Regardless, this market is something to keep your eye on because it quantifies the pulse of the public’s opinion of the LeBron courtship. Also, be sure to check out my attempt to handicap the major players in the LeBron sweepstakes.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Where do the Magic go from here?

While it takes more than one player to lose a series, this season was about Vince Carter, and the Magic’s decision to trade for him last summer in lieu of re-signing Hedo Turkoglu. Here’s what I wrote about the move in mid-July:

Let’s see, your team just lost in the Finals — losing two games in overtime — and your main ballhandler is a free agent. What do you do? It’s tough to create the kind of chemistry that gets a team to the Finals, so you re-sign him, right? Not the Orlando Magic, who balked at Hedo Turkoglu’s $10 million-per-season asking price and instead pulled the trigger on a trade for Vince Carter. So essentially they gave up their most consistent player (Turkoglu) and a budding star (Courtney Lee) for the 32-year-old Carter. A healthy Jameer Nelson (along with a savvy mid-level signing) may have been enough to put this Magic team over the top, but now we’ll never know.

Turkoglu has had his problems in Toronto, but on a per minute and per shot basis, he was just about as productive as he was in Orlando. We’ll never know if the Magic would have beaten the Celtics if they had kept their Finals core intact, but one thing is for sure — the Vince Carter move was a bust. Against Boston, he averaged 14-4-2, shot 37% from the field and just 21% from long range. The question remains: Does Vince Carter have what it takes to win an NBA Championship?

If the Magic have learned their lesson, they’ll try to move Carter this summer. He has one more year on his contract (at the tune of $17.5 million) and another year that is a team option. So he essentially has an expiring deal, which could be valuable to a team trying to get out of another big contract. Three trade partners spring to mind…

Perhaps Golden State would be willing to take on Carter’s contract for a year to get out of the four years remaining on Monta Ellis’ (26-4-5, 45% shooting) deal, which would allow the Warriors to fully commit to rebuilding around Stephen Curry. Along with Jameer Nelson, Ellis would give the Magic the league’s smallest backcourt, so that may not be a very good idea.

The 76ers would almost certainly be willing to trade Elton Brand (13-6, 48% shooting), though that would force Rashard Lewis to the three. (Andre Iguodala is another possibility, but the Sixers would want something else in return, like Marcin Gortat.)

Finally, the Wizards would love to unload Gilbert Arenas (23-4-7, 41% shooting), and Carter would take some of the scoring pressure off of rookie John Wall. The move would also create a ton of cap space (for the Wizards) in the summer of 2011 for a possible run at Carmelo Anthony. Arenas would represent another roll of the dice for Orlando, but if he can get back to All-Star form, he could give the Magic the playmaker on the perimeter that they had hoped to find in Carter.

I’m not sure if any of those options sound good to Magic fans, but this is where the team is at with regard to Carter. Given his inability to win in the postseason, no one will want him at his current salary, so the possible trade partners are limited to teams looking to dump a bad contract of their own.

Or the Magic could elect to hold onto Vinsanity and tweak the roster around the edges, hoping that this core has better luck next season. Clearly, that hasn’t been Otis Smith’s style, so I’d expect a big change or two as Orlando tries to find the right players to surround Dwight Howard.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

How bad are things for Oliver Perez?

…so bad that even his own teammates hope that the Mets sending him packing.

From the New York Post:

A day after watching Oliver Perez implode in a relief appearance against the Brewers, two disgusted Mets players told The Post yesterday it’s time management drew a line in the sand with the putrid lefty.

“You tell him you go to Triple-A or that’s it, you are finished,” one Mets player said, well aware that Perez is still owed about $20 million on the three-year contract he signed before the 2009 season.

A second Mets player echoed that line of thinking.

“At some point you have to cut bait,” he said. “You owe him a lot of money, but for what?”

Ouch. Perez is making $12 million this season and is owed $12 million next year, too. He has it written into his contract that he can block the Mets assigning him to Triple-A Buffalo, which he has already done once this season because he doesn’t think he would benefit from facing minor-league hitters.

But maybe he’ll be humbled by the comments of his teammates. He’s 0-3 with a 6.25 ERA and has struggled both as a starter and as a reliever. Putrid wouldn’t even begin to describe how bad he’s been this year and maybe he can get some of his confidence back if he pitches in the minors.

That said, if he continues to refuse minor-league demotions, then maybe his teammates are right and that the Mets should just dump him. He’s owed a ton of money, but he’s killing them every time he takes the mound and something eventually has to give. Sometimes teams just have to bite down, swallow hard and move on.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Albert Pujols takes shots at Wrigley Field

Based on his comments about Wrigley Field over the weekend, it doesn’t sound as if the Cubs will be on the list of teams that Albert Pujols puts together if/when he becomes a free agent after the 2011 season.

From the Chicago Tribune:

“The history and the field is all good,” he said. “I always look forward to play (here) because it’s a great rivalry. (But) the playing field and all that, it’s not in the best condition you know. You’re glad you don’t have to play here for the whole year.”

The field is freaking 96 years old, so it makes sense that it doesn’t offer the best playing surface (especially when compared to some of the newer stadiums around the league). But I wonder what Pujols means specifically. Is the grass to slow or too fast? Does the dirt not hold together? Is the field unkempt? I wonder if more players share Pujols’ opinion of Wrigley, or if this isn’t a case of a St. Louis player having fun while taking a shot at something Chicago is proud of.

From a fan’s point of view, Wrigley will always be a historic landmark. It’s become a tourist attraction to most hardcore baseball fans and it’s always fun to catch a game in the middle of the day while drinking with the rest of the bleacher bums. The place is old, but it’s hard to argue against its place in baseball history.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

“Ochocinco: The Ultimate Catch” ready for shooting

Only Chad Ochocinco could take 85 women that want to date him, narrow that list down to 16 and then pair them in a March Madness-type bracket in order to choose one lucky winner. But he’ll be doing just that in his new reality TV show, “Ochocinco: The Ultimate Catch.”

The Cincinnati Enquirer has the ridiculous details:

Ten episodes will be shot by June 30. “Ultimate Catch” premieres 9 p.m. July 11, and airs through Sept. 12, the first Sunday of the NFL season.

Eventually 16 will live together in a huge Los Angeles mansion. Ochocinco will pair the women in an NCAA basketball tournament-type bracket, and date those two together. One will lose and go home, the other will advance, in each episode.

Bengal fans will be happy to know that none of this will affect Ochocinco’s day job as a football player, because apparently the producers are working around his schedule. We wouldn’t want Chad missing any camps or team meetings because he needed to determine whether or not the No. 9 seed was going to knock off the No. 8.

I hate reality TV shows, but this is one I may actually watch just so I can hear his commentary.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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