Where Will LeBron James Play Next Year: Cleveland, New York, or Chicago?

Darrell HorwitzSenior Writer IIMarch 31, 2017

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Was LeBron James ripping off his Cleveland Cavaliers jersey as he ducked into the tunnel after another disappointing season symbolic of his parting ways with his hometown team and leaving for, if not greener, winning pastures?

Monetarily, it won't be greener, because he can make the most money in Cleveland, but after seven years of trying to build a team around him, it seems like Cleveland has to dismantle the current roster and rebuild again.

They're not a very young team and you could argue, they're not a very good team. If your two best players outside of LeBron are Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison, how good are you?

Saying that, does LeBron stay loyal to Cleveland and continue to build his brand while trying to win a championship, or does he pursue the glamor and the bright lights of New York, or the prospect of winning right away with the great young talent in Chicago?

Cleveland is in his heart, being from Akron, but does it make sense to stay with a losing proposition?

The Cavs will probably fire Mike Brown, but without the cap space and the ability to surround him with better talent, does staying in Cleveland help him win a title and build his legacy.

Michael Jordan won his first title in his 7th year in the league, and then he kept on winning them. LeBron is already past that deadline, and the future is grim if he stays home.

After the game yesterday, he said, "It's all about winning for me and I think the Cavs are committed to doing that. But at the same time, I've given myself options to this point, and we'll see where we're at."

I don't see how going to New York will fit the bill for his desire to win, unless he wants to wait at least a few years while they build a team around him, and the other max free-agent they could sign.

He infuriated Cleveland fans because he went to Indian games as a guest of the team wearing his New York Yankee hat, and that might be where his heart is, but isn't it time to use his head and make the right decision for what's best for him?

If it's building a brand and becoming a marketing mogul, New York would be the spot.

But if he has the burning desire to win and be the best basketball player on the planet and maybe the best ever, New York is not the right choice.

And besides, he's never going to be the best basketball player ever and this playoff series proved that. As Avery Johnson was quoted on the "Mike and Mike Show" this morning, "He's a great player, but he's not Michael Jordan."

Chicago is starting to look like a likely landing spot according to various gambling sites putting odds on where he lands along with some GM's in the NBA.

According to an article by Chad Ford on ESPN.com this morning, three GM's think he's going to leave the Cavs, and that he's likely to end up in Chicago.

According to Bodog.com, the odds of him coming to Chicago are even with staying in Cleveland at 1-2. Previously, the Bulls were a 40-1 shot, so they're moving up the charts with a bullet.

James finished what may be his final game with Cleveland with almost a quadruple-double, though not necessarily one he would be proud of. He ended up with 27 points, 19 rebounds, and 10 assists, to go along with 9 turnovers.

In Cleveland, it seemed like he had to do it all. With the Bulls, he would have Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah to compliment him, along with a Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich, and Taj Gibson. It's also possible a combination of the latter group could go in a sign and trade to add another top player to the mix.

Rose and Noah are easily better than any other player on Cleveland, and even though he's a disappointment, you could say Deng is too. And if you go back a few years, Hinrich also tops anything the Cavs have if he can get back to that form.

With Rose and LeBron both taking turns handling the ball, it would be impossible to double-team either of them, so teams will have to pick their poison, and it might not be a slow death.

Can you imagine them together on the break with Noah and some other pieces they'll add to finish the puzzle? That's a scary proposition for the other teams in the East, including the Magic with Dwight Howard.

With the Bulls having two of the ten best players in the league, I don't think Orlando would be able to keep the Bulls from getting to the finals.

LeBron complimented Derrick Rose and the Bulls team when he played them in the playoffs. He also mentioned he likes Chicago and has vacationed here before. Why not play here? 

LeBron said he was giving up his 23 jersey out of respect for his hero Michael Jordan. He's planning on wearing No. 6, which just happens to be the number of titles Michael won.

Some people think he wouldn't want to come to Chicago because Michael Jordan will always be the man here. But wouldn't it be a testament to his legacy to play and win championships in the same arena that his hero did?

There's room for another bronze statue in the parking lot, and I don't think Michael would mind sharing.

If he always wanted to "be like Mike," now is the time.