Monday, May 17, 2010

I'm Concerned

Can you really argue with this:

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.

3 comments:

Erik said...

But truthfully, other than Derrick Rose, what are the other compelling reasons to choose the Bulls? It's a big city?

Joakim Noah had a great series against the Cavs, but I'm not about to coronate him as a rising elite big manjust yet. He gets a lot of hustle points, and his offensive game is better than Andy's, but I doubt he'll be much more than a rag doll when confronted by KP or Howard in a playoff series, last season's Bulls-C's epic notwithstanding.

Deng? Hinrich? James Johnson? These guys are supposed to make LeBron salivate?

I also wonder what would happen to the Bulls' work ethic if they received a crutch like LeBron. Right now, they're viewed as a plucky, rising team because they have to play all-out every night due to their sum-total talent and depth deficiencies. They can take nothing for granted.

Give them the ultimate crutch in LeBron, and I bet the support cast starts taking some nights off with the knowledge that LBJ will rescue them in the fourth quarter. How often have we seen it in Cleveland?

Adding LeBron to your roster changes the whole team dynamic. It's not a 1+1 equation.

Ben said...

Well, he was a Bulls fan growing up.... though I get your point.

I've always wanted to see LBJ with an actual, honest-to-God, real life Point Guard. Someone who is the no-doubt runner of the offense that forces LeBron to play off the ball.

I'd hate to see that happen in Chicago (cause Rose fits that bill).

I do agree that playing with LeBron isn't as cut and dry as people make it out to be. The guy has the ball in hands so often, other players can simply become spot-up shooters (and not every one can do that).

Erik said...

Do you really think a third-year player like Rose, no matter how talented, would really force the ball out of LeBron's hands? When LBJ wants to pound the ball up top for the first 18 seconds, what is Rose going to say?

"Uh, Mr. James? Sir? If it wouldn't be a bother, I'd really appreciate the opportunity to run the offense again..."

There are only a handful of PGs in the NBA who could truly force the ball out of LeBron's hands: Jason Kidd, Chauncey Billups, Chris Paul and Steve Nash are the first that come to mind. Those are PGs with the veteran floor-general presence that LBJ would have to respect.

Rose? He's too young yet. LBJ would overshadow him, and Rose doesn't yet have the street cred to tell LBJ "This is my offense, you do what I tell you."

Same goes for John Wall, even though he appears headed for the Wiz. LBJ would probably ruin Wall as a PG. He'd never develop floor leadership skills playing alongside LeBron.