A source with direct knowledge of the Chicago Bulls front office's plans says the team believes it has the right players in place -- namely, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng -- to surround LeBron James when it makes its case with the free agent to-be on July 1.
But the source said there has been no discussion of bringing Kentucky coach John Calipari in with James as part of a package deal.
The Chicago Tribune reported Monday that according to league sources, basketball power broker William Wesley -- a friend of both James and Calipari -- has been quietly contacting NBA teams that have coaching vacancies and salary cap space about the possibility of bringing in James and Calipari together.
But the source with knowledge of the Bulls front office's thinking said that at no point has there been discussion about packaging Calipari to get James to come to Chicago. The source also said that bringing Calipari along to get James would lessen Calipari's status in the locker room, because he'd be seen as the coach who is there only because of James.
Another league source told the Tribune that another person, described as an "unknown Calipari connection," contacted the Bulls over the weekend.
I'm still hesitant to believe that LeBron wants to walk by a Michael Jordan statue every day going into work, but Chicago makes a lot of sense basketball-wise.
Can anyone really argue that Derek Rose would be the best teammate that LeBron has had in his entire career? That's not really a question, right? I mean, who would you say is the best teammate LeBron has had in Cleveland? Antawn Jamison? Mo Williams? Rose is far and away better than anyone on Cleveland's roster (plus, he's young).
(and for what it's worth, LeBron didn't grow up a Knicks fan. He grew up a Yankee fan, a Cowboys fan and.... a Bulls fan).
Obviously, I hope that LeBron stays. I've always said that his decision will come down to basketball reasons. The fact that the Cavs are coming off two 60 win seasons helps a lot. But then I see Bud Shaw making the case for James to stay:
Stay and he has the opportunity to reverse the sports fortunes of a place he claims to hold dear while still getting much of what any other non-Sun Belt city could bring.
The last seven years here haven't exactly been a sentence for him. Olympic gold, two MVPs, a NBA Finals, perennial All-Star berths, a book, a documentary, a movie, lunch dates with Warren Buffett.
Market size matters little in the capped NBA. James is just as big in China as he would've been had he spent the last seven seasons anywhere else. Kobe is bigger there. But that's about titles, not market.
This is not to say James can never leave here without being painted as a betrayer. Just that if he's the guy he keeps telling everybody he is, he'll decide the Boston series wasn't any way to go out.
Not for him. Not for his team. Not for the place he calls home.
It's home. He has unfinished business. The Cavs can pay him more. Be the guy who wins a championship in Cleveland.
Those are all good reasons to stay in C-Town. Hell, I agree with a lot of 'em.
But they aren't basketball reasons.
I've always said that LeBron wasn't going to go to the Knicks because of market size or the nightlife or any of that (and I still believe that's true). But on the flip side, I don't believe he's going re-up with Cleveland just because it's home or because they can pay him the most money. James will be judged on championships and the Cavs just got booted out in the second round. Not good.
For what it's worth, the Vegas odds on LeBron staying are 1-1 (the Bulls have the second best odds at 7-2). So ya. Sure, the Cavs have no one near the talent of Derek Rose (or Joakim Noah, to be honest) but the Vegas odds are in the Cavs favor! Vegas, baby!
It's gonna be a long six weeks.