As the one of the biggest off-seasons in NBA history approaches, the summer's key players seem willing to collude amongst themselves to get what they want. The NBA pendulum has swung towards the players. So what will they make of it?
Dwyane Wade told the Chicago Tribune that he has been informally talking to LeBron James and Joe Johnson for the past three years as free agency has approached. The three will likely meet in person again before any of them make decisions about their futures.
According to other sources, Chris Bosh will also be at the meeting among the free agency superstars. Bosh has advised the Toronto Raptors that he would accept a trade to the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks or New Jersey Nets.
According to Wade, his decision will depend on what other players want, and what they are willing to do. Wade told the Tribune that it isn’t a “just me” situation. This isn’t just about money (as LeBron wants to make it seem). This is an us-versus-them mentality.
The superstars will most likely choose among the Nets, Bulls, Heat, or Knicks, who have the most cap space. The Knicks may be the only team with enough cap space to sign both Wade and James.
While talking to the Tribune, Wade praised the loyalty shown by the Heat for its players while questioning the Bulls, whose big names (like Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen) have all severed ties with the organization.
Chicago would be a premier spot for both James and Wade. The Bulls have the strongest team foundation with Derrik Rose and Joakim Noah. They do not have the cap space to sign both. But Chicago is the only contending team that could create a truly threatening team by signing just one free agent star.
There is undoubtedly hubris involved. Wade might not sign with his hometown team simply because they pursued James more enthusiastically. Either way, Wade offered few favorable opinions of the organization while talking to the Chicago paper.
It’s hard to see where Johnson, whose stock fell drastically during the playoffs, fits into the mix. There are clear tiers to contend with amongst these players, in terms of both skill and character. Bosh has nowhere near the superstar skills of Wade or James. But he had the luxury of not exposing his true character in playoff play.
The entire NBA hierarchy could change, depending on the decision these stars make. NBA owners should be shaking at the core in anticipation of a handful of players having a genuine chance at changing the next decade of NBA championships.
The likelihood of a LeBron James/Dwyane Wade tandem may still be possible if they decide on a common destination. They'd create a college-like range between the best and worst.
Imagine the depleted Cavaliers facing off against their former star and Dwyane Wade. The city of Cleveland might never recover.
Wade’s statements, more than anything, seem to be address Miami. He's either warning or calling-out to the Heat organization. Wade seems willing to stay if they give him a reason to do so.
Perhaps, after all, these talks are simply an attempt by him to try and woo some of his Team USA teammates to Miami.
The final questions remain: Are these players colluding at the expense of, or in favor of, the NBA? Do they want to find the best way to keep the NBA balanced (honorable, but unlikely) or try to organize the quickest way to a championship?