L.A., New York, or Cleveland: Where is LeBron James' Future Home?

Todd KaufmannSenior Writer IMay 12, 2010

CLEVELAND - MAY 11:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on while playing the Boston Celtics in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on May 11, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio. Boston won the game 120-88 to take a 3-2 series lead. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

LeBron, you're a great player, perhaps the best to grace the game right now, but do you want to go down as the greatest player to never win a championship?

That's the question that a lot of people are asking King James these days and it's the one question that may send LeBron out of Cleveland to find greener pastures. The next question becomes, where will King James find his future home?

Maybe the even better question is, who needs him more? It seems there are only two teams in contention for LeBron's services if or when he decides to become a free agent.

We all know that the New York Knicks, not to mention New York City itself, has made it quite clear how much they want LeBron in a Knicks uniform and they won't apologize for the overtures made towards him every time he's stepped into Madison Square Garden.

On the left coast the Los Angeles Lakers and their fans including their most famous one, Jack Nicholson, are wondering about their chances of landing yet another superstar to go with the one they already have in Kobe Bryant. Though most would wonder if James could handle being "the other guy" next to Bryant.

Now that we've wondered if it's going to be the Knicks or the Lakers what about his chances of staying in Cleveland? Could LeBron sign a contract extension with the Cleveland Cavaliers and play the next four to five years of his career there?

If you're asking me, the answer to that question is emphatically, NO. Don't get me wrong, LeBron has gotten the Cavs "close" to winning a championship but there's always been that one team that's been better than they are. The Cavs will never be able to surround Lebron with the kind of players that are necessary to win a championship.

That fact alone will drive LeBron to seek a new address and, for my money, it will probably be with Phil Jackson and the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Zen Master is probably the only one that can handle two superstars and do so to a championship caliber. Though that experiment didn't exactly work when Shaq, Kobe, Karl Malone and Gary Payton tried to work together for that exact cause. Then again, Shaq and Kobe did it to the tune of three straight NBA titles (1999-2002) so it can be done.

You might remember Phil Jackson as the one that coached Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman all at the same time and we all know how that turned out.

Now, I'm not going to LeBron's house to help him pack and rush him to Los Angeles because it seems the Lakers are doing just fine as they are right now. However, is there anyone who thinks the Lakers wouldn't be the most dominant team in the NBA with a starting five of Kobe, LeBron, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol and either Derek Fisher or Jordan Farmar?

Sure New York is enticing to LeBron especially since he's an admitted New York Yankee fan, but can the Knicks surround him with the kind of players that the Lakers already have? Can they put together the kind of roster that will enable James to win a championship?

It's an interesting question because who wouldn't want to play with James? Would just having him in New York make free agents re-think their decision about where they would want to play next? Would it make the Knicks become the NBA's version of the New York Yankees just without the bottomless pit of money the Yankees have?

Whatever decision LeBron James makes, it's a decision that not only affects himself but it affects the team he decides to sign with. It affects ticket sales as well as free agency because with the kind of player LeBron is, he could command the biggest contract in NBA history.

For now, James has a playoff game against the Boston Celtics to concentrate on especially after arguably his worst performance to date. He walked off the court to a noticeable chorus of boos as the Cavs laid an egg to the tune of a 120-88 loss to the Celtics in game five of the NBA playoffs.

If game six is LeBron's final game in a Cavs uniform, he may very well be remembered for watching his team get it handed to them in embarrassing fashion. Not to mention getting the team "close" but never to the promised land.

This could be the most interesting off-season in NBA history with arguably more than a dozen teams jockeying for position for the best player to grace a basketball court in quite some time. Not only is LeBron going to be a free agent but he'll join Miami's DeWayne Wade and Toronto's Chris Bosh.

Though the movers and shakers for Wade and Bosh will be news worthy, the LeBron James sweepstakes will make headlines in every newspaper across the country until he signs on the dotted line wherever he ends up.

NBA presidents and general managers, start your campaigning engines.