Sunday, May 23, 2010

Cavs Need Heart-To-Heart With James

(lh3.ggpht.com)

It is imperative that the Cleveland Cavaliers take an prolific approach to LeBron James' impending free agency. Someone needs to sit down with Mr. James and ask the billion dollar question before the organization finds out the hard way: Will you stay or will you go? Whether it is Coach Mike Brown, GM Danny Ferry, President Len Komoroski, or Majority Owner Dan Gilbert, one of them (or at least a combination) has to sit down with LeBron and find out what his plans are.

Once the organization finds out if James' heart is set in Cleveland or is destined elsewhere, the team must act prudently. The best situation for the Cavaliers is that LeBron wants to remain in Cleveland. Then the team would simply sign him to the max contact, and the entire state of Ohio would be saved.

However, if LeBron intends on signing elsewhere then the organization must accept this unfortunate decision and move on. The Cavaliers cannot simply allow James to walk away without anything in return. James is the most valuable player in the NBA. It would be an egregious mistake to grief the loss of James when the team still has the ability to maximize his value to the organization. If James does not intend to return to Cleveland, then the Cavs must respect this decision and must also utilize a sign-and-trade.

The sign-and-trade is the best situation for LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers if LeBron intends on leaving the team.

For LeBron, he has the choice of playing for any team in the NBA as opposed to only those with enough cap space to sign him. Furthermore, Cleveland can offer James the largest contract. He may not still be with the Cavs, but he will still have the larger contract that his Bird-Rights team can offer him. Lastly, he will land in the location he wants without completely betraying the Cavaliers fans. With the sign-and-trade, the Cavaliers will receive something in return for James. The returning package will most likely not be of comparable value, but the fans will not leave empty-handed.

It is quite obvious why the sign-and-trade is the best decision for the Cavaliers organization. As previously stated, the Cavaliers will receive something in return for James rather than absolutely nothing. Losing LeBron is a lose-lose situation. The organization simply has to choose the better of the two evils. 

Now the question is: Where will LeBron be sent to? At Joey's Sports Blog we like to keep an open mind, so here is the 29 team run down of sign-and-trade possibilities (and follies) for LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers:

Atlanta Hawks - The basis of the deal would have to be a double sign-and-trade with Joe Johnson and LeBron James. The Cavs could also squeeze out Jeff Teague and draft picks.
Boston Celtics - Salary wise the deal would probably start with one leg of the Big Three; it will be hard for the C's to send Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett. Financially speaking, signing Ray Allen to a deal with a base-year-salary of about $10 million and shipping Rajon Rondo - who is due $9 million - to the Cavs for James would work (or signing Allen to about $5 million and shipping him with Wallace or Robinson); however, it is doubtful that the Celtics management will break up the core of the roster featuring Rondo, Pierce, Garnett, and Allen because of the success this group has had which makes this a folly.
Charlotte Bobcats - The Bobcats have few nice pieces to send back in return for LeBron. The problem is convincing James to go to Charlotte. If Michael Jordan invites LeBron out to dinner in Charlotte with a few "friends" then maybe he could convince him. Never mind, that would be an absolutely terrible idea. The last time we checked Michael Jordan's ensemble includes Tiger Woods, Charles Barkley, and about two dozen exotic dancers. Nevertheless, the Bobcats could send two high priced players such as Tyson Chandler, Gerald Wallace, or Stephen Jackson. Or one of the previously mentioned players along with a couple of role such as Raymond Felton, Tyrus Thomas, DJ Augustin, and Gerald Henderson. The Cavs could walk away with a nice core of young players offering a promising future after LeBron.
Chicago Bulls - Chicago has been one of the big destinations this offseason season since the Bulls will have enough space for a marquee free agent. Any deal would have to start off with Loul Deng. The Bulls would then try to send off Kirk Hinrich in order to open up room for another prized superstar through free agency. At this point, the Bulls could pencil in Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, or Dirk Nowitzki. Cleveland would also look to acquire a blooming big man such as Taj Gibson or James Johnson as well. Deng hasn't been as consistent or productive as James, but the Cavs would have a new centerpiece to their organization.
Dallas Mavericks - The foot-in-the-door phenomenon occurs when someone makes some sort of small effort toward an objective and becomes more willing to follow through with more demanding tasks toward that objective once the smaller objective has already been completed. Mark Cuban has already donated $100,000 to the LeBron James sweepstakes; it will not be a surprise if he continue to pursue. The Mavs would start off by offering a versatile small forward replacement in either Caron Butler or Shawn Marion. Jose Juan Barea is a prospering guard that the Cavs would try to snatch as well. The final piece would be either Jason Terry or Erick Dampier. Terry is the better player, but the Cavs have an overload of perimeter guards and Dampier would replace the role of Shaquille O'Neal as immobile, overpaid, veteran center.
Denver Nuggets - Carmelo Anthony for LeBron doesn't do anybody any justice. The only deal that I could conceivably force would be Chauncey Billiups and Nene for LeBron. Again, this deal would be a stretch for both teams and James (in terms of location). It is difficult seeing LeBron go to Denver but if it did miraculously occur then this would be the most plausible situation.
Detroit Pistons - The Pistons were proabably in the hunt for James last season but were sacred into locking up Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva after tanking salary cap estimates. Financially speaking, a deal for two of the following could work out: Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Ben Gordon, and Charlie Villanueva. Prince has an expiring contract which could be used by the Cavs to acquire a different player later in the season if a free agent signing turns out to be mutually deterrent. Ben Gordon isn't LeBron James, but Gordon has proved himself to be one of the most electric scorers which could make him a fan-favortie anywhere. The Cavs would also look to squeeze out a young talent like Austin Daye and draft picks.
Golden State Warriors - The volatility of the Warriors roster makes them a possible destination for James. Again, the difficult would be convincing James to go to play in Golden State. Oracle Arena is one of the most energized places to play. Plus, James would be with Stephen Curry - a player James seemed eager to play alongside. Don Nelson's tempo would also be enjoyable for a player that is as dynamic and versatile is James is. The Warriors also have their own set of dissonant pieces in Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins in which the Warriors have been rumored to be shipping multiple on multiple occasions.
Houston Rockets - A trade of Kevin Martin and Trevor Ariza for could be plausible. James, Aaron Brooks, and Yao Ming could prove to be a dominant trio for a few years. James would also be pipelined into one of the largest basketball markets in China with his connection to Yao Ming and the Rockets. Cleveland would end up with one of the more underrated players in Kevin Martin could help replace some of the scoring void left by James. The addition of these two players would also setup a roster that was explosive enough to play in a fast paced offense yet still defensively sound.
Indiana Pacers - This is a similar situation to Denver in which there is a possibility for a straight-up superstar for superstar which doesn't make much sense (especially location wise for James). A deal is unlikely to go by for these two teams. The most plausible deal - just for the sake of it - is Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy for James. Both players have expiring deals, so if their situation don't work out then there will not be much risk; however, if one or both proves to be successful then the Cavs might come away with two nice pieces. Murphy is a lengthy, inside-outside presence that the Cavs like. At the end Murphy would be a keeper while Dunleavy expiring contract could be used to acquire a different player later on.
LA Clippers - This is another possibility that has been previously mentioned because the Clippers will have room for a marquee free agent this summer. Los Angeles is also an intriguing media destination because of the immediate comparisons between LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, for the proximity that could be impending. The Clippers have a few nice pieces to offer in Chris Kaman, Blake Griffin, and Eric Gordon. The Cavs would remain a playoff team with the additions of Griffin and Gordon along with retaining the remainder of their roster. A few years down the line Griffin and Gordon may each become one of the best players at his respective position which doesn't make this the most ridiculous deal talent wise. On another note, if the Cavs do let James simply walk away (which would be remarkably silly) and James does for whatever reason sign with the Clipper then a two-three-four combo of Gordon, James, and Griffin could become one of the best trios in the NBA if not of all time because of the hype behind the potential of Griffin and the development of Gordon.
LA Lakers - The Lakers would be a great suitor in terms of location, market, and success. Unfortunately, the only time James will be traded to the Lakers will be in a your basement while playing your favorite basketball video game. The Lakers have plenty of contracts to offer up for LeBron James, but I will allow you to conspire on these possibilities because of the improbable nature of any trade between the Cavs and Lakers for LeBron as of now.
Memphis Grizzlies - The Grizzles have a nice set of young players to offer the Cavaliers. The deal would probably start with Rudy Gay and involve two of these four: OJ Mayo, Mike Conley Jr, Marc Gasol, and Ronnie Brewer. However, it is doubtful that the Grizzles would want to dissemble this solid foundation that it has taken years to build.
Miami Heat - The Heat have been mixed in many rumors as the organization looks to add another superstar to complement Dwayne Wade this offseason. The most probable addition will be Chris Bosh through free agency. Amare Stoudemire cannot be ruled out either. In terms of a sign-and-trade possibility with Cleveland, the Heat can exchange everyone left on their roster besides Wade for LeBron James. That would include Michael Beasley, James Jones, Daequan Cook, and Mario Chalmers. The Heat could also throw in Jermaine O'Neal or Udonis Haslem through a sign-and-trade as well. In all likelihood, if James does arrive in Miami it will be via free agency - not sign-and-trade.
Milwaukee Bucks - The most concievable scernario would be a swap of Michael Redd (who can also opt out of his contract) and LeBron James along with a compilation of draft picks from the Bucks. This wouldn't do much for the Cavs, but it would be better than just waving goodbye to James. It would also be quite a hurdle to try to convince James to play in Milwaukee. This is another unlikely scenario.
Minnesota Timberwolves - Minnesota is a dark horse to acquire LeBron through free agency because at the right cap the T'Wolves could have enough to offer a maximum contract to James; however, imagining James in a T'Wolves jersey is quite difficult simply because of the location. For the sake of a possible trade, Minnesota could sent either Al Jefferson or Kevin Love, one of their young point guards (Jonny Flynn, Ricky Rubio, or Ramon Sessions), and a replacement SF (Corey Brewer or Ryan Gomes) to Cleveland. This is an unlikely scenario but this would be the mold of a trade if it did miraculously transpire.
New Jersey Nets - New Jersey is actually one of the realistic destinations that could land James because of their impending move to Brooklyn and because of LeBron James' ties to Jay-Z. The Nets have a wealthy of blooming young talent that is sure to prosper around him if they acquire him via free agency. A sign-and-trade would defeat the purpose of the Nets wasting away the last few seasons in order to build a young nucleus for the future. There are numerous combinations for a sign-and-trade, but one would leave several disgruntled individuals that beared with the Nets to develop this core.
New Orleans Hornets - The Hornets have been the subject of many trade rumors as the team has failed to reenact the success of last season. Specifically, Chris Paul has been the subject of numerous rumors - all of which ended with a denial that Paul is available. David West or Emeka Okafor would be a solid starting piece. New Orleans would be able to offer several complementary role players for the salaries to matchup. This group would include the likes of Darren Collison, Julian Wright, and either Morris Peterson or James Posey. This wouldn't be the best option, but the Hornets have been one of the most active teams in the trade market so one could not count them out.
New York Knicks - New York is the likely destination for LeBron James if he does not sign with Cleveland and if the Cavaliers allow LeBron to walk without attempting to utilize his value to the organization. A sign-and-trade would force the Knicks to cater to the Cavaliers rather than LeBron James. The Cavaliers can walk away with either Danilo Gallinari or Wilson Chandler, a few draft picks, and an expiring Eddy Curry contract which could be used to acquire a player of comparable salary later in the season. There is also a possibility of a sign-and-trade involving one of the Knicks' players whose contract just expired. The Cavs would also be able to walk out with at least a pick too.
Oklahoma City Thunder - Similar to the Grizzles' situation the Thunder have developed a concrete foundation. The Thunder have their own blooming superstar in Kevin Durant, and the addition of LeBron James could actually impede the frame the Oklahoma City has worked to create.
Orlando Magic - Like the Dallas Mavericks, the Magic have suffered an early exit from the NBA Playoffs and are in search of a roster shakeup. The Magic do not have room to acquire James through free agency, but the squad would definitely be willing to give up a few essential pieces in return for James. Either Rashard Lewis or Vince Carter could be sent along with draft picks and cash to Cleveland for James. The Magic are open to trading anybody besides Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson, so if the Cavs are willing to send some more contracts to Orlando then the Cavs could walk away with a few solid role players of comparable salary value.
Philadelphia 76ers - Philadelphia could be a plausible sign-and-trade destination for LeBron James. The city has the media and market to help propel LeBron James to the global marketability status that he is seeking. The 76ers have a few nice pieces to reel in James from Cleveland. Andre Iguodala would be a start. Then the Sixers could throw in a few of the young studs that have not yet synchronized into the Phily system; such players include Louis Williams, Willie Green, Thaddeus Young, Marresse Speights, Jrue Holiday, Jason Smith, or Jodie Meeks.
Phoenix Suns - Steve Kerr was fined for making remarks about the Suns interest in LeBron James. Kerr made his interest in LeBron clear no matter how unlikely it is for the Suns to acquire him. The Suns still need to handle Amare Stoudemire, Grant Hill, and Channing Frye in the offseason. If the Suns are some how able to retain Stoudemire then Kerr might be able to maneuver for James - whose interest to come to Phoenix would be to play alongside a formidable roster including Stoudemire and Nash. The Suns would have to part with a few players that helped them reach the Western Conference Finals. The return package for Cleveland would not be as appeasing as some of the other sign-and-trade possibilities.
Portland Trail Blazers - The Blazers grandmaster plan for the future has finally become realized. Portland will enter next season as one of the favorites to contend in the West with a healthy roster. Any speculation about LeBron James to Portland would only be video game shenanigans.
Sacramento Kings - The Kings could be another dark horse suitor for a free agent this offseason as the team has made extensive room for serious signings. The Kings have done a solid job of gathering promising players in order to become a serious contender in a few years. Acquiring LeBron James would be jumping the gun on what seems to be a foundation for a team of the future.
San Antonio Spurs - San Antonio understood its need to upgrade an aging roster by acquiring Richard Jefferson. Jefferson has simply not been the player that the organization has expected. LeBron James could bring the spark that the Spurs have been losing with age. A plausible sign-and-trade for LeBron James would include Richard Jefferson, draft picks, and a young blooming player such as George Hill or DeJuan Blair.
Toronto Raptors - Chris Bosh is objective number one in Toronto. It is doubtful that James will end up in Canada this offseason. The only possible way would be if the Raptors resigned Bosh and then sign-and-traded pieces such as Hedu Turkoglu and Jarret Jack along with draft picks for James. This would be video-game-trade territory, but the only way James would play in a location like Toronto making it doubtful.
Utah Jazz - It is unlikely that Utah will be in the running for LeBron James as they have created their own foundation with Deron Williams and Paul Millsap. Financially speaking, Andrei Kirilenko for LeBron James would be the deal but this deal would not be of worthy consideration for the Cavs considering the other more productive players that they could acquire through sign-and-trade.
Washington Wizards - Washington is one of the strongest sign-and-trade possibilities for LeBron James and the Cavaliers. LeBron would be in our nation's capital, so there would be no shortage of media or market outlets (especially on a global scale since it would become customary for foreign guests to be suited at a Wizards game gaining global coverage of James). Wizards games would have a similar atmosphere to the Georgetown basketball games when our nation's leaders were special guests at those games. Trade wise LeBron for Arenas could be the most talent that Cleveland would receive in return for a sign-and-trade. Another possibility would include Josh Howard and a role player such as Andrey Blatche or Al Thornton. Finally, the Wiz could offer up the number one pick which would equate to John Wall.

All in all, no matter where LeBron intends to play next season the Cavaliers must make it a priority to maximize his value to the organization whether he is wearing a Cavaliers jersey or not.

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