Everything can change tonight. At 9 PM ET tonight, Lebron James will announce where he is going to play basketball for the forseeable future. The press conference is being held in Greenwich, Connecticut so some are saying that he will sign with the Knicks. While I don't see this happening, there is no way to rule out the Knicks or any team for that matter with salary cap room. So, if Lebron doesn't resign with Cleveland, here are the possible destinations.
Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh have already announced their intentions to sign with the Miami Heat earlier this week. The Heat can trade Michael Beasley and create enough cap room to sign Lebron as well if he chooses to go to Miami. If this were to happen, this would be the latest "Big Three" in the NBA that would make the Heat the clear favorites to win multiple NBA championships. All three of them enjoyed playing with each other in the Olympics and would be great teammates that can help James get that elusive ring. Also, Pat Riley would most likely come in and coach giving James that extra incentive to join the Heat. However, there are two problems with this possible scenario.
First and foremost is signing enough players to fill out a roster. The Heat don't have enough players to even have a starting five on the floor so they will have to aggressively recruit players that will play for the league minimum. This will be important for their title hopes because the team is only as good as their role players. All three players can't play 48 minutes a game all season and playoffs. The second problem for Lebron is that if he joins the Heat he is not the alpha dog of this team. There is no question this is Wade's team. Can Lebron defer to him as the years go on? This could tarnish his legacy and we know that his brand and his name is very important to him, but is it more important than championships?
Chicago is an appealing option for James because the Bulls have enough cap room to sign two max free agents and Carlos Boozer has already agreed to sign with the Bulls. This is in addition to the Bulls roster that features Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, and Luol Deng. Even though Tom Thibodeau is a rookie coach, he has a strong defensive philosophy which is appealing to James. A starting five with all of those players are instant championship contenders and can most certainly win next year, whereas the Heat situation involves the luck of the draw with signing supporting players.
Aside from the great players the Bulls roster already boasts, the Bulls have a great basketball history and legacy. This is the city that Michael Jordan played in and if James wants to attain that crown of the best ever, there is no better place for him to do it then Chicago. If Lebron wants to win now, he will sign with the Bulls.
New Jersey Nets
The Nets are a long shot, yet still an appealing destination because they will be moving to Brooklyn in two years and James has made it known that he would love to play in New York. Also, Jay-Z is a minority owner of the Nets and James is close friends with him. Basketball wise, the Nets have a great young roster that features All Star point guard Devin Harris, Brook Lopez, and recent third overall pick Derrick Favors. The Nets are also aggressively marketing the new look Nets in the Tri-State area and are looking to push the Knicks aside as the premier basketball team in that area.
New York Knicks
The Knicks are a long shot along with the Nets but the Knicks have an interesting salary cap situation that could lead Lebron to join them. The Knicks have already signed Amare Stoudemire to a max contract and look to have just enough room to sign Lebron. However, the Knicks have Eddy Curry's expiring $11.3 million dollar contract expiring after this season. This means they can go out next year and try to lure Carmelo Anthony, who has said he wants to play for New York. The trio of Lebron, Amare, and Carmelo might be just as good if not better than Wade and Bosh. Also, the spotlight of New York and MSG might be incredibly difficult for Lebron to pass up.
Wherever Lebron goes, this will be a monumental decision. This decision could not only shape the NBA Finals for years to come but also change how teams approach free agency and the trade deadline. GMs will have to build their rosters based on how they can defeat a big three that either the Heat or Knicks can throw out, or a young athletic Bulls team with a superstar supported by budding superstars. Either way, we will all be watching tonight.
As always, thanks to Keith Allison for the photo.