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Could James, Wade, Bosh, and Johnson Be in Cahoots?

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Could James, Wade, Bosh, and Johnson Be in Cahoots?
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Could Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Joe Johnson all be playing for the same team, as they did in the Olympics, when the 2011 NBA season begins?

It doesn't seem to be in the realm of possible outcomes to the great summer of 2010, with free agency set to begin July 1st.  

However, could it be?  

Well, no single team is projected to be far enough beneath the salary cap of 56.1 million to afford four max contracts for players with seven to nine years of experience.  

The number for a player of that caliber and experience level, a max player, will be $16.83 million in first year salary. Amari Stoudemire could get 17.19 because he made more than the others in 2009.

James and Wade are without a doubt max players, but Bosh and Johnson might not be in the more frugal salary climate that is the future of the NBA, as well as all major sports worldwide.

Even in an uncapped year we haven't seen NFL teams break the bank by any means. And, in the most economically successful sport, international soccer, we aren't seeing nearly as many outrageous transfer fees and contracts.

The teams projected to have the most cap room are as follows: the Knicks with $37.5 million, the Nets with $30.2, the Heat with $25.4, the Bulls with $24.2, and the Kings with $22.9.  

Interestingly, the first four, along with Cleveland, must be considered the top five most likely landing spots for James, which would be step number one in this equation.

The Kings have no shot at landing these stars unless they choose their destination by most fitting team name—the Kings would work well in that case. A dark horse to grab a player like Bosh is the Oklahoma City Thunder who will have $15.9 million in cap space to work with. But that's another story.  

If the four Olympic team friends are really serious about playing together in the NBA they will have to be willing to take less money than they could get elsewhere to make it happen. And also there is this quote from an article from Michael Wallace:

"In addressing his free agency, Wade said he would meet with James, Bosh and Johnson to discuss where they could play next season."

Certainly makes it seem as if they are. Wallace's article appeared in the May 12th edition of the Miami Herald. 

The New York Knicks, with the biggest stage and the most salary cap space, must be considered the popular favorite as possible destinations for James. While they could sign both James and Wade to max deals and still be $4 million under the cap, they have virtually no other viable players on their roster.

The Knicks might end up with James and Wade or more likely James and Bosh, but they are a long shot to be the destination if the four All Stars are determined to play together next season.

In fact, the New Jersey Nets seem to be a more likely destination for James and Wade, who would be teamed with PG Devin Harris, PF Yi Jianlian, and C Brooke Lopez in Jersey before moving to Brooklyn.  

The Nets offer perhaps the biggest business opportunity for James, the business man, with Brooklyn lingering on the horizon, and his good friend and well established NYC business man Jay-Z on board.  

Also intriguing is their recent purchase by a Russian billionaire who may not care about paying the NBA's luxury tax. If the Nets' new owner is willing to spend big—really big—he could devise a plan to unite all four players.  

Harris, Jianlian, and Lopez could all be attractive to either the Raptors or Hawks in a sign-and-trade. Especially Harris, who is set to have a high cap number and would be expendable if the Nets secure the first pick in the 2010 NBA draft—and thus Kentucky point guard John Wall.

The Miami Heat have the same problem as the Knicks.

Even if they could find a way to sign both James and Wade, they don't have any players on their existing roster that would be attractive to the Atlanta Hawks or Toronto Raptors in a sign and trade, which would be necessary in order to acquire Bosh and Johnson.  

Like the Knicks, the Heat might get Wade and Johnson or even Wade and James if they can open up a bit more cap space, but they remain the longest of long shots to get all four players with Pat Riley laying in wait as the teams free agent lure, ace in the hole.  

The most viable destination for the four Olympic teammates to unite in the NBA is Wade's hometown Chicago Bulls.  

At $24.2 million under the cap, and possessing players such as Luol Deng and Kurt Heinrich, the Bulls have the necessary combination of players which would be attractive to both Atlanta and Toronto as well as cap space that would be instrumental to make such an acquisition.  

Deng could be traded to the Raptors along with a draft pick in 2010 in exchange for Bosh, while Heinrich and a first-rounder in 2011 could head to the Hawks in exchange for Johnson.

Johnson and Bosh would have to accept $12 million in the first year of their deals. Assuming Wade and James would be willing to take $15 million in order to play on the team of their choosing, the Bulls would be left to shave just $5.8 million off their roster or possibly facing the luxury tax.

It would be well worth it for Chicago, and for Atlanta and Toronto as well, considering they are facing the prospect of losing Johnson and Bosh without any compensation coming their way at this point. 

Imagine a starting lineup of Derrick Rose at point guard, Wade at the two, James playing three, Bosh at the four, and Joakim Noah at center.

Combining this starting five with a Joe Johnson who has moved back to the sixth man of the year role he played so well in Phoenix would prove dominant.

I think the 2010-11 Chicago Bulls would challenge the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls for the all-time best regular season mark in NBA history.

This would truly be the next NBA dynasty, restoring the Bulls franchise and the city of Chicago to prominence just as Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Toni Kukoc, Dennis Rodman, Ron Harper, and Steve Kerr did during the nineties.

 

Addendum:

The most likely scenario in all this would be that Joe Johnson becomes the odd man out, perhaps landing back in Phoenix.  Then the Bulls sign Chicago born Dwayne Wade and do a sign and trade for James and Bosh involving Deng and Hinrich.  Leaving them enough cap space to still sign a bench player or two with their mid-level exception while avoiding the luxury tax.

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