The 2009-2010 NBA season is approaching the All-Star break and many questions loom over the heads of many Cleveland Cavaliers fans. All Cavs fans seem very excited for this year’s squad with a 32-11 record and a commanding 12 game lead over the under achieving Chicago Bulls in the Central Division and a 3 game lead over the Boston Celtics for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, but questions continue to surface over this summer’s free agent market.
Many big names including Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Dirk Nowitzki, and Amare Stoudamire have the opportunity to opt out of their contracts and hit the free agent market come this summer, but none of these names match up to the likes of LeBron James. He and Kobe Bryant have become the “faces” of the NBA and having someone of LeBron’s stature hit the Free Agent market is big news around the league.
James has averaged 27.5 points, 6.7 assists, and 7.0 rebounds per game throughout his career. Those kinds of numbers ultimately change the culture and production of franchises around the league.
The Cavaliers franchise was in disarray after 17-65 record in the 2002-2003 season, but the lone bright news from that season was the Cavaliers earned the No. 1 pick for the upcoming 2003 NBA Draft. Reports have recently surfaced over that 2002-2003 Cavaliers team tanking down the stretch in order to receive that No. 1 pick. Everyone knew who the No. 1 pick would be, and it was the next coming of Michael Jordan—LeBron James.
After the selection of James as the No. 1 pick, the franchise felt a sense of rebirth and James immediately impacted the fortune of the Cleveland franchise for years to come.
After posting some Jordan-like numbers, LeBron James received his first MVP award this past 2008-2009 season and made his claim as the league’s top player. LeBron has led his team to the NBA finals only once back in the 2006-2007 season, and the cast of players that have and currently play alongside James have been continually plagued with questions over the lack of production.
After the Spurs defeated Cleveland in the finals, questions came about on how James’ team could improve. LeBron started to become more involved on and off the court after the 2006-2007 season. He serves not only as a small forward during games, but is looked at as a player coach on the court, and tends to voice his opinion to the front office serving as somewhat of a player General Manager as well.
Cleveland had an eventful offseason after a disappointing playoff loss to the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference finals. The Cavaliers had no answer for Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard’s inside-out game and changes needed to be made over the offseason. Cleveland made some offseason buzz after the surprising trade for Shaquille O’Neal. General Manager Danny Ferry has felt that Shaq is the vital piece to the puzzle where Shaq will attempt to slow down Dwight Howard come playoff time. Many questions have come about on how LeBron James would gel with Shaq and to an extent this season the project has worked out smoothly.
If the Cavaliers fail to make some noise in the playoffs this year, the chances of retaining LeBron James this summer could end up being questionable. As much as LeBron has been titled as a “homer” coming from the Akron area, many teams including the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets have geared up and significant cap room has been made for LeBron and a cast of other talented players, rumored to have Dwayne Wade and possibly Chris Bosh teaming up with LeBron to make an Eastern Conference power house in New York. The thought of LeBron going to the Big Apple this summer has fit nicely into LeBron James’ image. LeBron has recently been noted for his passion to become a billionaire athlete and the New York market definitely will increase his chances of becoming one.
When one looks at the elite teams in the NBA now-a-days most teams have 2-3 star players that complement well with vital role players, but Cleveland seems to have LeBron James and an aging Shaquille O’Neal. If the Cavaliers want to retain LeBron this offseason I feel that they are going to have make a significant move to complement James. Shaq may have been the right addition 5 years ago, but Shaq seems to be on the brink of retirement in the next year or two. Cavalier fans should really enjoy this year to the fullest and hope that LeBron can bring the city of Cleveland a title before the summer because for all we know LeBron could suited up in a Knicks or Nets uniform come October.