Jul 7, 2010, 9:27 AM EDT
The Eastern Conference is getting tougher at the top, the road to the finals and a shot at the ring James desperately wants is getting harder.
That leaves LeBron James with a tough choice:
Stay at home in Cleveland with a good team that has not gotten it done in the playoffs, but a team that could improve. Or…
Move on to another team, pair up with another star, and see if you can win there. Or…
Pair up with Wade and Bosh in Miami to form a super team.
The Eastern Conference will be tough next year. Boston won the conference and made it to the finals, and they are getting the band back together for one more run. Orlando, which went to the finals two years ago, will bring back a powerhouse roster with Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson.
And now Miami — who was the fifth seed last year, they were not that bad — has added Chris Bosh and will have the space to put together a good team around them.
James could join Wade and Bosh in Miami. ESPN is reporting that is being discussed around James. But other things would need to fall into place.
First, it would take a sign-and-trade from Toronto where they take on the questionable contract of Michael Beasley or Mario Chalmers to make it work.
However, there have been questions from the James camp about this, feeling it would diminish any title won and his marketing standing, going to Wade’s team. Which is silly — is Magic Johnson less of a star because he played with Kareem Abdul Jabbar and James Worthy?
LeBron has been rumored to have a preference for staying in Cleveland, but that team has fallen short in an Eastern Conference that is now getting tougher. And Cleveland is not going to be able to get a lot better this summer, with many of the top free agents now headed elsewhere.
LeBron has to be tempted by Chicago, where he and Derrick Rose would have to learn to play together but could form a powerful team, with Joakim Noah in the middle. New York can now offer Amare Stoudemire — someone James encouraged Cleveland to go after at the last trade deadline (they settled for Antawn Jamison instead.
It’s impossible to predict what James will do — the teams that courted him and some people thought to be close to him are in the dark. But right now, Cleveland’s position seems to be weakening, and every other team is trying desperately to fill in the gaps.
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