LeBron’s camp thinks he’s staying in Cleveland?

According to Brian Windhorst of The Plain Dealer, LeBron’s camp seems to think that he’s going to re-sign with the Cavs this summer.

After being mostly neutral and downright noncommittal for some time, those closest to James have been altering their view recently. The vibe being sent out from James’ camp — whether it is private conversations or discussions about new business or plans for the near future — is that James currently is leaning strongly toward re-signing with the Cavs.

That may sound vague and, as always, it continues to be fragile. Yet there is no denying the gradual shift within James’ circle and, it is assumed, by James himself.

James has declined to talk publicly about free agency since November. But as one source said, “I have never been so sure that he’s going to stay in Cleveland than I am right now.”

Windhorst is a good beat writer and I believe him when he says he’s getting a different vibe from LeBron’s camp.

LeBron is supposedly a loyal guy, and is from nearby Akron, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he decided to re-sign with the Cavs even if the team flames out again in the postseason. He seems to genuinely enjoy the players on the team and the franchise has treated him well, and that goes a long way.

But if the Cavs lose in the playoffs, would they bother to bring Shaq back for another season? If not, even with his salary off the books, the Cavs would be approximately $17 million over the salary cap. The only way to infuse the team with more (or different) talent would be to swing a trade or use the mid-level exception.

In other words, if this Cavs team doesn’t break through and win a title, I’m not optimistic about the 2011 Cavs or the 2012 Cavs having more luck.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

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

Daily News writer has the key to LeBron’s brain

No one really knows what LeBron will do this summer, not even LeBron. But Mitch Lawrence of the NY Daily News says you can cross three teams off the list.

First, the Clippers…

James isn’t playing second fiddle to Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, even if Clippers GM Mike Dunleavy traded off Marcus Camby, Al Thornton, Sebastian Telfair and got rid of Ricky Davis to create a maximum salary slot for the express purpose of landing James.

Kobe is turning 32 this season and isn’t going to play forever. He has already played 1,158 games and his knees are eventually going to give out, so LeBron wouldn’t be playing “second fiddle” for long, if at all. LeBron might see the taking of L.A. and the resurrecting of a long-maligned franchise as a worthy challenge. Will LeBron sign with the Clippers? Probably not, but not because of Kobe. The Clippers’ best player, Baron Davis, is already 30 and injury-prone, and owner Donald Sterling doesn’t have a very good reputation.

Next up, the Nets…

Read the rest of this entry »

The Top 10 NBA Free Agents of 2010

Originally published December 11, 2008.
Updated November 12, 2009.

The phrase “Summer of 2010” has become part of the NBA lexicon. Teams have been tripping over each other trying to clear cap space for next summer so that they can sign an impact free agent (or two). With that in mind, let’s take a look ahead at the free agent crop of 2010.

Below is a list of the top 10 players that are likely to be free agents next summer. I’m ranking them based mostly on talent, but it’s also important to note each player’s age in July of 2010, as that will affect his value and skill. For example, a 31 year-old Paul Pierce holds much more value than a 33 year-old Paul Pierce. Get the drift?

1. LeBron James, SF (26 years-old)
James is the golden boy of this free agent class and is the player that every franchise would love to land next summer. He will have just turned 26 and whatever team is lucky enough to sign him will – barring injury – enjoy four or five years of the best basketball of his career. The Cavs have gone “all in” this season, signing Shaq, Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon, and re-signing Anderson Varejao. In the process, they gave up whatever cap space they would have enjoyed next summer. If Cleveland’s season ends in disappointment once again, it wouldn’t be surprising if LeBron decides to take his game elsewhere. Three teams — the Knicks, Bulls and Nets — jump out as good fits. LeBron has stated that his top priority is to become a “global icon” and playing in Manhattan would serve that purpose. If the Knicks are able to unload Eddy Curry or Jared Jeffries before the trade deadline, then they’ll have the projected cap space to sign two top players on this list, and that might be enough to convince LeBron to sign on the dotted line. Plus, he’s familiar with Mike D’Antoni (via the duo’s work with Team USA) and the Knicks’ up-tempo system would be a near-perfect fit for LeBron’s skill set. The Nets offer a better supporting cast (led by Devin Harris and Brook Lopez) and the (impending?) move to Brooklyn would boost the franchise’s profile. Chicago has a number of pieces already in place (Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Kirk Hinrich) and is bigger market than Cleveland. But would LeBron want to go to the franchise that Michael Jordan built?
Note: Player option (PO)

Read the rest of this entry »

LeBron to…Minnesota?!?

John Hollinger writes in his latest PER Diem (Insider subscription required) that LeBron’s best bet for long term success may not be in Cleveland…or New York…or New Jersey/Brooklyn…

And it’s especially worth noting that if the Cavs are back in the 45-50 win range this season, King James might be a much more portable commodity this coming summer. If he’s looking at a Cleveland lineup with one majestically talented player and several spare parts, one would think the comparison to such arrangements in New York or New Jersey wouldn’t be dramatically different.

But those aren’t close to being the most palatable changes of uniform available. For instance, it bears mentioning that joining the Chicago squad LeBron’s team lost to Thursday night would be dramatically different. With a young star point guard, quality big men and lots of secondary help, the Bulls — who could get as much as $20 million under the cap if John Salmons opts out of his contract, conveniently opening a spot in the lineup for LeBron at the same time — would offer a more clear opportunity for long-term success.

Let me throw out an even crazier proposition — Minnesota. The Wolves will have the cap space to make a run at LeBron, depending on a few variables — or at the very least can get there fairly easily if they know there’s a chance for a player of this caliber. (Declining an option on Ryan Gomes, for instance, is done much more easily if it allows you to replace him with the best player in the league.)

Minnesota is generally thought of as one of the NBA’s least-desirable relocation options, but let’s consider it from a winning perspective. Who would you rather play with for the next five years: Al Jefferson or Anderson Varejao? Kevin Love or Ilgauskas? Ricky Rubio or Mo Williams? Jonny Flynn or West? Ramon Sessions or Daniel Gibson? Next year’s fourth pick or next year’s 24th? It’s obvious, isn’t it?

Don’t get me wrong — the T-Wolves would be a good fit for LeBron, but he’d be a pretty good fit anywhere. I just don’t see him taking his show from one cold, small-market Midwestern city to another cold, small-market Midwestern city. If he doesn’t stay in Cleveland, then there seem to be three real options:

1. Brooklyn Nets
With Devin Harris and Brook Lopez locked up for the next few years, the Nets have two All-Star caliber players already on the roster at two of the toughest positions to fill — point guard and center. Is the penetrating Harris the perfect fit alongside LeBron? Not necessarily, but if the Nets can find a sharpshooting off guard (Courtney Lee?) and face up power forward (a la Rashard Lewis), the Nets would really be in business. Plus, the move to Brooklyn would take away the stigma of playing in New Jersey.

2. Chicago Bulls
It would break the city of Cleveland’s heart if LeBron fled to the Windy City. New York or Brooklyn? Cleveland fans wouldn’t like it, but they’d understand. But if LeBron heads to Chicago, home of the team that stepped on the Cavs’ throats so many times during the Jordan era, the city might explode. From a pure basketball point of view, it’s a nice fit. They already have Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, Kirk Hinrich and maybe Tyrus Thomas. Chicago is also a threat to pry Dwyane Wade out of Miami.

3. New York Knicks
This is more about MSG and the spotlight than who the Knicks have on the roster. Playing in Mike D’Antoni’s system would be nice, and if the Knicks can unload either Eddy Curry or Jared Jeffries, they’d have enough cap space to sign another free agent to max deal. This might be a case of the Knicks having to coax Chris Bosh out of Toronto or Amare Stoudemire out of Phoenix before being able to convince LeBron to sign on the dotted line.

We’re only a couple of weeks into the season and the talk is already starting. The Cavs have plenty of time to morph into a 60-win team, but right now they don’t look it. And the longer they struggle, the louder the drum beat is going to sound.

Where will LeBron land?

That’s the biggest question hovering over the NBA this season, at least from a free agency standpoint. ESPN tackled this issue by surveying a group of “52 NBA noggins” to see what the general consensus is.

The good news for Cleveland fans is that 73% responded that he’s likely to stay put, in no small part to how the economy has affected the NBA salary cap. The bottom line is that, with reduced cap space, other teams are going to have a tough time signing two superstars, so they become less desirable destinations for LeBron.

New York still lurks as the biggest threat to pry LeBron away from Cleveland, and here’s why…

Read the rest of this entry »

Related Posts