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Which teams are most impacted by LeBron James not touring for free agency?

Jun 26, 2010, 10:37 AM EDT

We told you earlier that LeBron would not be going on a worldwide tour of his free agent destinations as had been previously reported. But the question now is, which teams are most impacted by that decision? Let’s take a look at the candidates and rank the impact this has on their chances on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “no change” and 5 being “dramatically impacts.” 

New Jersey Nets: Like we filled you in earlier, the Nets will get first swing, and they’re bringing Jay-Z as their big bat. James decision not to tour the free agent cities helps the Nets quite a bit, evening the field. Why? Because they’re not in Brooklyn for another two years. James knows all the free agency spots, having visited then already. But trying to pitch him on the draws of Newark versus the other locations for two very long years was going to be a hard sell (no offense, Newark). Now the Nets can bring in their basketball impact, with Devin Harris, Brook Lopez, and the financial benefits of being involved with Jay-Z and Prokhorov. Two years from now this would have hurt the Nets. But meeting James in Akron may be a blessing in disguise in the Nets’ now slim-hopes of landing the King. 
LEBRON-O-METER: 3 (Positive)
Los Angeles Clippers: James hosting the Clippers in Los Angeles is a mixed bag for the still-headless club.  On the one hand, bringing James to the LA hot spots and showing him the gorgeous weather would have been a nice boost for them, the best part of their pitch, really. The team’s not very good, on top of being perennially snake bitten, so pitching James hard on the glamorous life in LA would have been ideal. On the other hand, not bringing him to LA means he won’t see how deeply that city is invested in Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, and how James will always be viewed as a sideshow to the other LA city. Plus, there’s always the chance of James being heckled in public by devoted Kobe zealots who can’t seem to get over comparisons of the two, despite them playing completely different positions with different skill-sets and games.The overall impact is negated by these conflicting factors. Let’s face it, the Clippers have no shot. 
LEBRON-O-METER: 2 (Neutral)
Cleveland Cavaliers: Home court advantage. With James not going to see the bright lights of the bigger cities, it means more time for him to be home, with everyone wanting him not to abandon them. The Cavs walk out of this arrangement in even better position to re-sign him. If you’re anything like me, whenever I visit a place, I’m constantly saying “I could definitely live here” whenever I’m having a good time (I said that precise thing about Omaha, Nebraska last night. I could not live in Omaha, Nebraska). With James not leaving town, it means that the other cities’ advantages in non-basketball matters will be negated. This is a huge asset for the Cavs, who will be relying on the fact that James has won 60 games with the clubs in the past two seasons, and home, after all, is where the heart is. 
LEBRON-O-METER: 5 (Positive)
Chicago Bulls: The Bulls could show him the great dining and awesome Chicago way of life if James were to visit, sure. But unlike Miami or Los Angeles, they don’t have great weather. Unlike New York, Chicago isn’t the center of the cultural universe (though it’s definitely close in orbit). So what does this mean for Chicago? Simple. They can walk into the meeting and say “If you want your best chance over the next ten years to win a championship, you’ll choose Chicago. Thanks for your time.” and walk out. Okay, they won’t actually do that. But they could. With Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose as the core assets, the Bulls can focus on basketball with James, and that is a huge leg up for them. Chicago itself has a global reputation that precedes it. The Bulls can use that as an advance and then focus on the team and it’s two-max-free-agent cap space. 
LEBRON-O-METER: 4 (Positive)
New York Knicks: Well, they’re screwed.  The Knicks had a luxurious feast being prepared by a top-name chef. Everything was in place to show James why he should choose the greatest city in the world. And now? Trying to sell the Knicks without New York is like trying to pitch a father of two on going to Disneyland from the bar. It just sounds like a lot of hassle compared to where you’re at. The Knicks feature a series of swapped picks over the next few years, and their next best player is a young Italian sharpshooter named “The Rooster.” Mike D’Antoni may have to resort to offers like “I’ll make sure you break Wilt’s scoring record” or “We can get you a sextuple double.” This is a pretty big disaster for Knicks fans. 
LEBRON-O-METER: 5 (Negative)
Miami Heat: It has not been a great week for the Heat. First, the Chicago Bulls managed to dump off Kirk Hinrich’s contract, meaning they can now offer nearly two-max free agents, the same as the Heat. Then this news, which devastates the Heat’s chances. Let’s face it, the Heat are clinging to two things. 1. If James comes to Miami, Dwyane Wade will re-sign. And that’s still a very good pitch. And 2. the weather. That’s it. The team is in complete ruins, having dumped off everyone to make room for free agents, except there’s no guarantee of there being anything to surround the two big fish. Mario Chalmers and Michael Beasley are literally the remaining core. And when you shape that up against the other teams vying for James? Only the Knicks are in worst shape. When the Clippers can show they have a roster closer to a championship than you do? You need the weather. And oh, was the weather a big deal. Throw in the friendly tax laws, which James will be reading on some sort of PowerPoint presentation instead of seeing in action, and the Heat are still one of the top bidders, but this is not good news for them. 
LEBRON-O-METER: 4 (Negative)
  1. Randall - Jun 26, 2010 at 11:20 AM

    Miami’s going to have a problem keeping Wade, forget about LBJ. An empty roster except for 2 guys still on their rookie contracts? That doesn’t sound very tempting, that sounds like they expect Wade to leave.

  2. Patrick James Riley - Jun 26, 2010 at 11:49 AM

    No, I’d argue that the Heat having the most cap space of any team in basketball puts them in prime position not only to resign Wade, but to lure James and the other big name free agents. Once the big two names are signed, then they can pick out who else they want on their roster with more money than any other team to spend on the most stacked free agency pool ever.
    And if you think Wade is leaving at this point, then you just haven’t kept up with the wires.

  3. mike feldstein - Jun 26, 2010 at 12:20 PM

    Lebron will be signing with the Cavaliers. Either Byron Scott or Mr. Shaw from the Lakers will be the next Cavs coach. I predict that Dan Gilbert will trade Mo Williams and Delonte West to a team for an impact player. Cavs will be the true winners here.

  4. TC - Jun 26, 2010 at 12:25 PM

    This is how it’s going to go:
    Wade and Amare to the Heat.
    LeBron, Bosh and Joe Johnson to the Bulls, after Deng’s salary is traded away.
    Boozer and Rudy Gay to the Nets.
    Knicks re-sign David Lee.
    Knicks fans hunt down Isiah Thomas and Scott Layden. Donnie Walsh flees the country, and Mike D’Antoni goes to coach the Heat next year.

  5. Jooooooel - Jun 26, 2010 at 12:32 PM

    Lebron James will sign with the Chicago Bulls. With a core of Rose, Noah, Deng, and Gibson in place, in addition to cap space enough to sign to max free agents, how could he let that pass him by. Lebron isn’t getting any younger, and so he wants to start winning now. Projected line up.
    PG – ROSE
    SG – DENG
    SF – LEBRON
    PF – BOSH
    C – NOAH

  6. Jim Rolff - Jun 26, 2010 at 12:43 PM

    When the Bulls sign and trade Luol Deng, James Johnson, the first round pick from Charoltte, and the second round pick from Washington, all for Chris Bosh, then they’ll have a ton of money left for LeBron and several other players including Omer Asik and a couple of three point shooters. Put the trophy next to the Stanley Cup

  7. Dan - Jun 26, 2010 at 6:27 PM

    Miami doesn’t have a shot at just Wade and LeBron.
    It has a shot at Wade, LeBron and Bosh
    Chalmers, Wade, LeBron, Bosh, J.O or even rookie Pittman.
    Also what the guy doesn’t now about NBA culture, when you have star studded core, you have guys that are called ring chasers.
    They take discounts, the problem with building teams, is not finding role players, is being able to have stars.
    Like the Celtcis. Three Stars basically doesn’t happen often.
    You also need a stable organization, that is ran well from top to bottom. Pat Riley has the rings, and stature.

  8. al rogers - Jun 26, 2010 at 8:51 PM

    lebron makes more in endorsements then he does in salary.
    A nba ring will increase his marketing value to china.
    I am betting that the heat end up with bosh and james
    chalmers is already resigned arroyo will resign for the same amount because he wants another nba ring. JO will resign for a couple million for the opportunity of playing with lebron james.
    The heat will attract enough role players to play for the nba minimum to make them the odds on favorite to win it all.

  9. donnie - Jun 26, 2010 at 9:27 PM

    The article is right. The Bulls don’t have to come in with guns blazing. Our three headed monster of GM’s John Paxson, Gar Foreman and owner Jerry Reisdorf (aka GarPaxDorf) are going to present the best basketball situation and then drop the mic like Randy Watson in Coming To America.
    In fact, rumors here in Chicago say the Bulls already have a deal in place with Joe Johnson for 4 years at 60 million. So if James decides to stay in Ohio, we essentially won’t lose out completely (like the Knicks). Yes, the next couple weeks should be very interesting.
    (@Jooooooel, btw dude. There’s no way new head coach Tom Tibbidaux puts Deng at the 2 without a reliable 3pt shot.)

  10. Mario Perez - Jun 26, 2010 at 9:28 PM

    Kaman, Jordan, Griffin, Aminu, Gordon, Warren, Baron, Bledsoe
    I like the Clippers roster.
    Chandler, Gallinari, Rautin, Fields, Curry, Douglas, Walker, Jordan.
    I hate the Knicks roster.

  11. ozzie - Jun 26, 2010 at 9:47 PM

    The King should play for the Kings. And they could squeeze him into a starting small forward spot.

  12. TaDow - Jun 26, 2010 at 10:30 PM

    Anyone stating Miami can re-sign Wade, then sign two other max free agents, do some research. Miami can re-sign Wade and one more max free agent. The only team that can truly offer two max contracts are the Knicks. The Bulls can offer one max and a second one that is almost the max. On paper, the Bulls have the best roster to offer. I’m hoping this Joe Johnson rumor is not true yet. He should be their third option behind James & Bosh. It would help if they could trade Deng first.

  13. Dan - Jun 26, 2010 at 10:55 PM

    Miami has 43 million plus of cap available, they are Beasley sign and trade for Bosh to hit the magic number.
    Miami can give Beasley away if Colangelo wouldn’t want to help, Raptors GM, and open up space.
    Heat got rid of Cook, and bought out James Jones.
    Only two guys under contract are Chalmers that is less than a million, and Beasley 5 million.
    So yes, Heat have the option to get all three at max contracts.
    They also have added dirt cheap 2nd rounders, such as Pittman that would be the next Kendrick Perkins, and a couple big guys to match up vs Gasol and Bynum, and Celtics front lines.
    Miami also has guys like Raja Bell, interested in playing.
    Vets would take vet minimum contracts to play.
    A star studded core of Wade,LeBron, Bosh would be the best core ever.

  14. TaDow - Jun 26, 2010 at 11:03 PM

    Dan, your point about Miami appears to be valid. If true, then James and Bosh will be in Miami on 7/8 to sign. But read the following regarding the salary cap. If what you stated is true, then why are they so fratic to unload Beasley right now?
    A team’s free agents continue to count as team salary (against the salary cap). This charge is called the “free agent amount.” So there may not be enough money under the cap to sign another team’s free agent, because the team’s own free agents are taking up all their cap room.
    The free agent amount depends on the player’s previous salary and what kind of free agent he is:
    Larry Bird, except when coming off rookie scale contract — [Who makes] At least the average salary — [his free agent amount is] 150% of his previous salary*
    * Not to exceed the player’s maximum salary

  15. Rick - Jun 26, 2010 at 11:54 PM

    Miami is going to sign:
    1. Dwayne Wade
    2. Chris Bosh
    3. Lebron James (He’s played with wade in the allstar team and theyre known to be friends, also who doesnt want to go to miami? Triple threat, this will surely make this a championship season.)

  16. Clippers who ? - Jun 27, 2010 at 1:14 AM

    Clippers – no way, have you seen how Clippers treat their STAFF, PLAYERS> Worse franchise, in NBA.

  17. mikesporty - Jun 27, 2010 at 4:07 AM

    Clippers have the best chance at signing LeBron… The king will be a Clipper soon!

  18. Pat - Jun 27, 2010 at 7:55 AM

    LeBron’s change of plans? Please provide a link to any story in which he was ever quoted as saying he was going on any tour. A complete media fabrication.

  19. tejano2k - Jun 27, 2010 at 9:10 AM

    With all due respect to Mr. Matt Moore and his journalistic prowess, what’s with the reference to LeBron James as “The King” (New Jersey Nets paragraph)? The King of what? Regular season wins? Regular season MVP? Clanking bricks in “crunch time”? To keep things simple, let’s reserve “the King” title for someone that’s actually “ruled” the game? That means someone that’s actually WON championships. So for now…Let us all hail King Kobe and his true court of co-CHAMPIONS that are the Los Angeles Lakers.

  20. Octavio - Jun 27, 2010 at 9:53 AM

    Hats off,well said.I’m i am not a Lker fan

  21. doyourhomework,America - Jun 27, 2010 at 11:45 AM

    what’s your point? I hate Donnie Walsh.

  22. Jeff J - Jun 27, 2010 at 1:25 PM

    Sorry Rick. Best three stars ever on the same team were named Chamberlain, Baylor and West.

  23. Sainte - Jun 27, 2010 at 2:10 PM

    Miami has one thing that no other team has: Pat Riley. In this league you need a great coach to take you to the promise land. Pat will come back to the sidelines if he has Wade, Lebron, Bosh. Control the league for 5-6 years. Chicago can’t offer that. Hope Lebron is smart enough to see that.

  24. gowhitten - Jun 27, 2010 at 10:25 PM

    LBJ is a big boy and has been to all the NBA cities, so whether or not he visits them will have nothing to do with were he goes – the money will. If Cleveland comes in second in the sweepstakes, and the difference is not too much, I say he stays in Cleveland.

  25. Jay - Jun 28, 2010 at 12:13 AM

    Goos Sgit What You Wrote. I Live In Miami Born And Raised And The Heat Have T he Best Chance To Win.

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