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Summer of LeBron


Sports Check



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July 07, 2010 | 08:38 AM
This is a historic summer for the National Basketball Association.

On July 1, free agency officially kicked off, and mega-stars such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Dirk Nowitzki, Amare Stoudemire (who signed a five-year, $100 million contract with the Knicks Monday) and Carlos Boozer all hit the open market.

Not to be outdone, the Milwaukee Bucks have actively joined the mix, signing "B" players Corey Maggette, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Drew Gooden as free agents. Thanks to the expiring contracts of not only has-beens but never-dids Dan Gadzuric and Charlie Bell (sorry, Danny G), the Bucks cleared up $11 million in salary cap space.

After re-signing Carlos Delfino, the Bucks locked up John Salmons for $40 million (I know, these salaries make me sick, too). In the end, a starting lineup of Brandon Jennings, Salmons, Delfino, Gooden and Andrew Bogut will improve upon last year's 46-36 squad. Toss in the talented draft picks, and the Bucks could be on their way to a division title.

But let's cut the local angle out of the equation. THE story of the summer is James. Only 25, he is probably the second-best player in the league behind Kobe Bryant but easily the most talented player of his, or maybe any, generation. At 6-foot-8, 250 pounds, he can shoot, pass and rebound, but the former NBA MVP still hasn't earned that elusive championship ring.

So, King James will look to join an already formidable team to push him over the hump or entice Bosh, Wade or some other top player to join him in Cleveland, which is less than an hour from his hometown of Akron, Ohio.

We've seen that the "Big 3" in Boston of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce won a title and reached the NBA Finals twice in three years. But this class is on a whole new level. Wade, James and Bosh are all eligible to make $16.6 million each per year with a maximum contract. And Miami could be the home for this Dream Team-like union.

The Heat only have two players, Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers, on contract for next season. By trading Beasley, the Heat could sign Bosh, Wade and James for the maximum amount, $16.6 million each, which is absolutely crazy but possible. How many titles could this all-star team win?

But there are definitely disadvantages. First, you'd have to sign the rest of your free agents to minimum deals, which may bring in old, non-capable players. Also, does King James, who could go down as the best player in NBA history before his career is over, want to look at Chris Bosh in the locker room and realize they are both making the same amount of money even though James is far better?

Egos are the size of contracts in the NBA, so I don't see this happening. Also, I don't see James going to Chicago because I don't think he and Derrick Rose could share the ball.

So that leaves only one logical place, Cleveland. The Cavaliers, who have only one Eastern Conference title in their 40-year history, need a winner. They need James to take them to the promised land. LeBron's mother and most of his childhood friends still live in Cleveland. The greatest thing about Michael Jordan's six titles was that he put the Bulls on the map. Before Jordan, the Bulls were nothing.

Now LeBron has that same opportunity in Cleveland. The Cavs can pay him the most amount of money, and it makes the most sense. Why not win a title for your hometown team? Build your own legacy and forever be loved by the community that has been with you since day one.

Convince Bosh, Stoudemire or Boozer to accompany you on your journey and do the right thing. Stay in Cleveland.

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