The speculation goes on.
The rumor mills will be buzzing for weeks on end as to whether two-time NBA MVP LeBron James will leave the Cleveland Cavaliers in free agency.
Essentially, fans are salivating over the idea of signing James without having to lose any talent as a result, and in effect leave Cleveland in the dust.
As the Cavaliers are the hometown team for James, I would hope that James at least has the decency to leave the Cavaliers with some true talent, rather than the retreads and role players currently on the roster.
That would make the scenarios much different as to where James will go. Is the question for James about playing in a particular city, or about playing somewhere that he can win?
As we have seen, James cannot carry a team single-handily. Even Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen and eventually Dennis Rodman.
After the Celtics traded nearly every starter on the roster for Kevin Garnett in 2007, it seems reasonable to think that the Cavaliers could garner a similar trade for James, if not a better deal this time around.
After all, wouldn't you be willing to break the piggy bank for LeBron James?
Thus, if the question is about where James could win, here are several sign-and-trade possibilities that make sense.
Naturally, most of these scenarios include teams with lottery picks. Thus, this year's lottery could decide the future of James all over again as the best pick would rule the day.
Currently, the Knicks are seen as the front-runners in the LeBron James sweepstakes.
If the Knicks were to acquire James in a sign-and-trade deal, the Knicks would also need to sign-and-trade David Lee for the Cavaliers but also include another starter or two..
Lee averaged 20.2 points with 3.6 assists and 11.7 rebounds.
If willing, the Warriors could send Monta Ellis and Corey Maggette to the Cavaliers in exchange for James, which realistically, would be a good deal for Cleveland, especially in the Eastern Conference.
Ellis averaged 25.5 points with 5.3 assists, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.2 steals as one the best scoring players in the NBA on a team that mostly struggled with defense in the paint. With a 20-10 caliber player in Maggette on top of the deal, the Cavs would get fair value for James, even if not equal value that could hypothetically keep the Cavs in contention.
Some might contend that Golden State is not the market that James is looking for, but some of that is media-created myth. The Bay Area, as a whole, is one of the largest markets in the country and growing faster than the East Coast markets like New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington—and of course, the Bay offers the world-class weather than cannot be beat.
Alternatively, the Warriors could trade the lottery pick instead of either player. My thinking is that the Warriors would be unwilling to part with Steph Curry.
Moreover, the Warriors could take part in a three team deal, in which the Warriors would send Maggette and Anthony Tolliver to New York for David Lee, and the Knicks would then send Maggette and the lottery pick to Cleveland for James.
The Nets will also need to hope for the top pick in the draft.
The Nets new owner Mikhail Prokhorov has plenty of money to spend, more than any other owner. Moreover, the Nets plan to move to Brooklyn one of these days, so that would fit the idea that James is seeking a big city on the East Coast.
To make a sign-and-trade deal work, the Nets would surely need to be willing to part with either center Brook Lopez or point guard Devin Harris. Lopez averaged 18.8 points with 2.3 assists, 8.6 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks. Harris averaged 16.9 points, 6.6 assists, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.2 steals.
The Bulls don't own a lottery pick, so this scenario is harder to imagine in any sign-and-trade conversation.
The Bulls, however, could offer forward Luol Deng, forward Hakim Warrick, and guard Kirk Hinrich, and would need to include draft picks in any deal.
The best players on the Clippers roster are guard Eric Gordon and center Chris Kaman.
My thinking is that the Clippers would need to send both, along with picks, for James in a deal that would pair him with guard Baron Davis.
Gordon averaged 16.9 points, 3.0 assists, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.1 steals. Kaman averaged 18.5 points, 1.6 assists, 9.3 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks.
The 76ers must hope for the top pick in this draft to have any chance at acquiring James.
Philadelphia would provide a large market that is conducive with the superstar brand of James.
The best player that Philadelphia could offer is center Samuel Dalembert, but this isn't saying much. Dalembert averaged 8.1 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks.