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Are the Bulls now the leaders in the LeBron sweepstakes?

Jun 25, 2010, 9:51 AM EDT

Thumbnail image for lebron celtics game 5.pngThere are a lot of jittery Cleveland Cavaliers fans right now. And not just because they had four cups at the Cleveland Coffee Company.

Clevelanders woke up this morning to a new landscape. Yesterday morning they were still the most logical place for LeBron James to play — they had shown him a serious commitment to winning, he got more money, he got to stay home and they were as close to getting a championship team together as anyone else.

Today, that is not the case. Chicago suddenly looks much closer to a title, and they have shown a serious commitment to winning.

That is, if the Bulls can land both LeBron and Chris Bosh. They traded Kirk Hinrich and now are right on the edge of being able to add two max contracts to go with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. Land two big free agents and Chicago will get penciled in to take on the Lakers in the 2011 NBA finals.

Chicago has done all it could and now is in a great position. Cleveland has done all it could for the past couple years, making big moves to try to bring LeBron a ring. Both front offices have shown what they are willing to do. There are pitches to be made, but the foundations are set.

There are reasons this might not work in Chicago. Maybe Chris Bosh really wants to be option number one, and the thought of playing on a team where the ball will always be in LeBron’s or Rose’s hands has him heading to Miami or New York. Maybe LeBron really wants to play with Wade. Maybe LeBron really always wanted to play in New York, who cares how far the team is from a title.

Let’s hope the “LeBron doesn’t want to play in the shadow of Jordan” argument doesn’t ring true. Because that would be sad and speak of a weak-minded LeBron. You didn’t see Kevin Garnett shying away from the legacy of Larry Bird and Bill Russell – he embraced it and added to it. You don’t see Kobe shying away from the legacy of Magic and Jerry West, he saw it as a challenge. (Of course, Kobe sees everything as a challenge.)

It comes down to this:

Chicago is a place he can win and maybe be the heart of a dynasty.

Cleveland is home.

LeBron will have to choose. After all the fancy dinners and celebrities and long talks with general managers, it comes down to what LeBron really wants in his heart.

And if that truly is titles, Cleveland may no longer be the front-runner.

  1. Zack - Jun 25, 2010 at 11:50 AM

    If anyone thinks LeBron is going to a team with a legit ball handler, they’re crazy.

  2. nazmin - Jun 25, 2010 at 12:09 PM

    Really , why would it be crazy??? Because it would spread the floor out and take alot of presure off lebron.. Your right though .. CRAZY Idea….

  3. TheColonel - Jun 25, 2010 at 12:19 PM

    Yeah, why wouldn’t LeBron want to handle the ball all the time? Why wouldn’t he want to use other aspects of his ability and use his size and strength to develop a truly nasty post game? Why wouldn’t he want to lead a team in scoring without having to lead it in assists, too? Having LeBron as the sole catalyst for the offense really worked out for the Cavs, I’ll tell ya.

  4. mattth - Jun 25, 2010 at 12:22 PM

    lebron does not play off the ball. he really does not. watch his game.

  5. TheColonel - Jun 25, 2010 at 12:28 PM

    Sorry, that should read: Yeah, why wouldn’t LeBron *not* want to handle the ball all the time?

  6. TheColonel - Jun 25, 2010 at 12:37 PM

    @mattth: This is true, so far. And look where it’s gotten him. Exhausted and beaten up and out of the playoffs these past three seasons. G-d forbid he had someone to share the ballhandling load with all season and for the bulk of games.
    LeBron is very much a student of the game. He respects its history, and he knows that guys like Jordan and Kobe actually got better when they began to defer a lot of the ballhandling to teammates, i.e. Pippen and Odom. Imagine LeBron slashing and developing a post game in addition to his ability to create shots for himself and others. It’d escalate his game to even more olympian heights and probably prolong his career, too, as it’d spare him a lot of wear and tear.
    I don’t think it’s any coincidence we’re hearing buzz that LeBron would really like to play with a top-flight point guard. See: Chris Paul rumors, everyone and their mother labeling the Bulls as favorites to land him, etc.

  7. Joe Smith - Jun 25, 2010 at 1:08 PM

    If the Hinrich trade goes down and Lebron does not go to the bulls, THEN he was never ALL about winning a championship!!
    Plain and simple…Lebron’s best chance would be there!
    Yes miami would be there if they could pull off the Beasley trade and sign Lebron, Wade, and bosh, BUT the Beasley trade may not happen.

  8. krish - Jun 25, 2010 at 1:09 PM

    I don’t think Lebron will win champion with Chris Bosh, this will become competion since lebron always wants to score more for himself… time will tell who will win..it’s team effort doesn’t matter how many stars in the team…

  9. terry - Jun 25, 2010 at 1:16 PM

    LeBron yes, Bosh no. Maybe Johnson, but NOT Bosh. Wade would be nice but I don’t see that happening.
    Pax – First sign LeBron, then let the free agents start calling you – They will.

  10. Ms.Shani - Jun 25, 2010 at 1:17 PM

    “Everybody wants to be like Mike at some point in their life” Lets go Lebron, Chicago is waiting with open arms!!

  11. KnicksTweets - Jun 25, 2010 at 1:32 PM

    Chris Broussard and the ESPN crew has been pushing this story from the start. Now it goes on to include LeBron and Bosh joining Rose and Noah.
    NOT ENOUGH BASKETBALL TO GO AROUND.
    Would stunt Noah’s growth. Now Bosh/Amare/Boozer and Joe Johnson or Rudy Gay is plausible, and frankly, frightening.
    At the end of the day, assuming the Knicks take care of their business, Knicks, Bulls, and Heat could be bitter rivals once again.
    KnicksTweets
    http://knickstweets.net

  12. KnicksTweets - Jun 25, 2010 at 1:33 PM

    Check that…stunt Rose and Noah’s growth.

  13. Raymond Dunton - Jun 25, 2010 at 1:46 PM

    There is a reason why Cleveland was not as successful having LeBron as the sole catalyst. Teams aren’t made up of one person. The teams that have concluded that this is true have done well in the playoffs.
    Back down at the University of Southern Maine, the women’s basketball team had a shirt that showed TEAM in big letters and showed a word for each letter. Together Everyone Achieves More. Below that, it said there is no “I” in TEAM. This was quite a few years ago, so that may not have been exactly what it said, but the point was that a team is everyone working together. This is true whether you are talking about the college level or the NBA.

  14. JamesH - Jun 25, 2010 at 2:06 PM

    I Lebron Should go 2 da bulls if he is serious bout winning title. If he wants 2 stay in cleveland nd do good in the regular season nd get bounced from the playoffs again dan good. If he dosent win a title dan he will be like charles barkley nd all them other players who was hall a famers but neva won a championship

  15. allaboutme - Jun 25, 2010 at 2:11 PM

    TEAM also spells Today Everyone Admires Me…so there is an I in team, you just need to look harder.

  16. frankie d - Jun 25, 2010 at 2:15 PM

    LE BULLS. Bring it!!! Nobodys felt this good about the Bulls since the legend left its on and we take care of our stars!!!!!

  17. TheColonel - Jun 25, 2010 at 2:29 PM

    Haha @Knicks Tweets: As if a Knick fan would be sympathetic to the professional growth of burgeoning Bulls stars! I’m sure you’re so concerned.
    1. How would it stunt Noah’s growth? He was never going to be an offensive force to begin with. He’s a garbage man on the offensive end, and he creates space in the post for a PF like Bosh who’s more of a faceup, attack the rim guy instead of a postup scorer.
    2. How would it stunt Rose’s growth? Sure, the ball wouldn’t be in his hands as much with LeBron around, but if anything it’ll help him develop his cutting and jumpshooting abilities. LeBron makes everyone around him better. Look at what he did with Cleveland, a team with very few players who’d count as slightly above average. Imagine how much better his presence would make players with actual star-level talent such as Rose, Noah, possibly Bosh and/or Joe Johnson.

  18. Dave - Jun 25, 2010 at 2:48 PM

    With a core of LeBron James, Noah, Rose, Bosh and Taj Gibson, LeBron would have a better team than he did in Cleveland and if Chicago was able to surround Noah/Rose with Bosh/James, this would be great for the NBA and the Bulls organization, since obviously that lineup would seriously contend for an NBA championship and Stern would have a mega superstar in James in Chicago, and we all know how great for the NBA Jordan’s Bulls was, well this would create that kind of renewed enthusiasm marked with different expectations.

  19. Ain't Gonna Matter - Jun 25, 2010 at 3:00 PM

    Doesn’t matter where LeBron is going…he won’t ever win a championship as long as Kobe and Pau are together. You can pencil in the Lakers as champions the next three years running.
    LeBron isn’t a team player, and everyone knows it. It’s all about Lebron and how he can be a Billionaire in basketball. The guy can’t hold Kobe’s jock strap and for him to win MVP this season is an outright joke…even LeBron knows it. Well, with his ego…probably not. No…I am not a LeBron hater…and he is obviously a ‘good’ player, but he ain’t great. Greatness gets your team to the finals, legends win the finals. You can’t even call him ‘great’ for going to his one and only final, because his team was swept. No sir, this whole Lebron thing makes we want to puke. Until I see that he will take a money hit and go (or stay) with a team that is built (especially coached) to win, LeBron is nothing more than one of the “good” players.

  20. tj - Jun 25, 2010 at 3:31 PM

    I’m sure LeBron has heard all the talk back when Kobe wasn’t a great player because he couldn’t win a title w/ out Shaq.
    Do you think he would like to go to a team w/ Wade and Bosh and basicly take the hit that KG took when he went to the celts? No way. He is going to go to a team that will surround him with good players where everyone still knows who the best option is. Joe Johnson? Yes. Ray Allen? Yes.
    Chris Bosh, no.

  21. Kevin - Jun 25, 2010 at 4:53 PM

    I bet you were probably one of those jack asses that rioted in the streets after the Lakers barely won the finals. If Kendrick Perkins did not get injured in game 6 your lakers would have been done. Guess it doesn’t matter since haters gonna hate.

  22. TC - Jun 25, 2010 at 5:13 PM

    The Heat have several advantages over every team out there in this free agency market, if they move Beasely, it would be even more of advantage, but look for them to make a HUGE splash regardless. Fact is, though Cleveland can offer Lebron a full 2% more money than any team out there, Lebron, Wade, Bosh…. stand to take home a full 5-7% MORE money playing in Miami due to the lack of a state income tax. Pair that with a hall of fame executive in Pat Riley, ownership that has always tried to put together the best team it could, playing in a beautiful, warm beach city, and one of the top night life’s in the entire world along with a couple other US cities and you have a recipe that can’t really be beat. Wade is personally trying to make this happen.

  23. Truth be Told - Jun 25, 2010 at 5:51 PM

    You’re crazy Kevin! If Andrew Bynum had been 100% the Lakers would have swept Boston. Kendrick Perkins is a garbage man! Name one game in the finals that he actually made a difference… you can’t!
    And if Andrew Bynum had been able to play back in 2008, the Lakers would have beaten Boston that year too…

  24. Potatoe - Jun 25, 2010 at 6:11 PM

    I like garlic and sour cream on my potatoes

  25. ken - Jun 25, 2010 at 6:16 PM

    Some one lied to you. Bynum is trash…good knee or not. Kobe said it himself in a spontaneous interview. He’s big, sure, but he is not a game changer like you claim he is. If bynum plays, gasol probably wouldn’t have done as well and the Lakers would have lost. Have you been taking acting/flopping lessons from Gasol and Fischer to think Bynum is this awesome player?!

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