Tick-tock. Tick-tock. We're waiting, LeBron James.
Seriously, people are getting really impatient. Like, crazy, horror-movie, stalkerish, what-in-the-world-are-these-people-doing-with-their-lives impatient:
It's not just the fans, though. The rest of the NBA currently sits at a standstill while James mulls over his options. This is truly the calm before the storm. Once the most powerful player in basketball finally makes his decision, a snowball effect will rip through the NBA, completely transforming the landscape of the league.
According to most pundits, there are but two forks in front of James' path.
Option No. 1: leave his talents in Miami and re-sign with Pat Riley and the Heat.
The biggest effect from that particular scenario falls on the Houston Rockets like a grand piano. If James stays in Miami, then, in all likelihood, so does Chris Bosh. According to ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne, the big man prefers to stay in Miami with James. What a weirdo. He must have a thing about playing with four-time MVPs.
Anyways, back to Houston. With all signs pointing toward Carmelo Anthony returning to New York, Bosh's return to Miami suddenly leaves Rockets general manager Daryl Morey as the little kid on Christmas who gets Sorry! instead of a Nintendo 64.
Instead of adding a productive stretch 4, which would give Houston one of the best starting lineups in the league, or any of the top-tier free agents, he has to turn elsewhere if he hopes to make a significant splash during the offseason. Lance Stephenson, perhaps? Luol Deng? Trevor Ariza? A big offer sheet for a restricted free agent like Greg Monroe?
Now, option No. 2 for James: returning home and signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
This unprecedented move would be as significant for free agency as it would be for the NBA history books.
First, Morey likely gets Bosh's signature, suddenly leaving Dwyane Wade with some things to think about. Does he stay in Miami, playing with Danny Granger and Josh McRoberts instead of James and Bosh? Or does he test the market?
RealGM laid out some potential options:
Then you have the rest of the East. James would be joining a ridiculously talented young core in Cleveland, and as Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins and others continue to develop, it's only going to get more difficult to knock the Cavs off the pedestal in the East.
That likely leaves teams like the Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls scrambling, going hard after the second- and third-tier free agents in an attempt to win now.
As Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski noted, a James-to-Cleveland scenario doesn't just affect free agency. It affects the trade market, as well:
Kevin Love to Cleveland has never seemed like a strong possibility, but Love would presumably really, really like (that's how you avoid a pun) to play with the best player in the world and would be more prone to signing an extension there. At the same, the Cavs have several young players and draft picks to entice Flip Saunders and the Timberwolves into a trade.
Even if that doesn't happen, a LeBron decision should still force the Love offers and rumors to ramp up again as teams attempt to make up for missing out on the free-agent goldmine.
And really, this is just the tip of the iceberg. No matter where James ends up, there is going to be a wild trickle-down effect in the days, hours and minutes after the news breaks. Contenders will enter a free-for-all, madly rushing to Plans B, C and D.
No pressure, LeBron. The entire outlook of the NBA hinges on you.
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