Lost In All LeBron Talk, What Will Free Agent Losers Tell Their Fans?

Jeff NewtonContributor IJune 22, 2010

CLEVELAND - APRIL 27:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers talks with Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls after defeating the Bulls 96-94 in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on April 27, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland won the series 4-1. 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

Did you hear the crazy news?

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh all made an informal pact to sign with New Jersey on July 1.

No, that’s not right. LeBron, Bosh, and Amar’e Stoudemire just committed to joining Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah in Chicago. They’re practicing introduction high fives and handshakes at Mike Ditka’s restaurant as we speak.

Wait, wrong information. LBJ, Wade, Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, and Dirk Nowitzki all inked deals with the Knicks.

To make room for such high-priced talent, GM Donnie Walsh dumped every center, guard, and forward on the current squad for conditional draft picks. The Knicks roster now consists of five players. Hope no one gets in foul trouble this season.

You get my drift. The speculation often exceeds the actual results in high-profile events like the upcoming NBA free agent period. These next few weeks could shift the balance of power away from those pesky Lakers, however.

Any offseason movers and shakers willing to shell out max contracts can expect happy fans, increased season ticket purchases, and the gift of endless possibilities.

Diehards in any big basketball market dream up these wild scenarios when they rest their heads at night. Hope serves as an endless resource as we play the waiting game.

Right now, every rumored organization feels they have an edge at landing some big fish.

But what happens to the teams that lose out in early July? How do the owners and GMs who whiff on every marquee player convey the grim news to eager supporters? And what if hope was all the team had going for it?

Over the last month, James has been linked to every professional team from Chicago to Kabul. There’s no substantial information to lean on, only rumors and conspiracy theories usually reserved for TV’s Lost enthusiasts.

The entertaining scenarios appeal to any basketball lovers who enjoy debating the “what if” factors on the table.

Overlooked in all the discussions, delightful though they may be, simple math proves only one team will actually secure James’ John Hancock. Or Dwyane Wade’s. Or Carlos Boozer’s.

While these ambitious plans usually go off without a hitch on gaming consoles, personalities and real-world decisions present more complicated issues.

That superstar James/Wade/Bosh Knicks crew, teaming offensive mastermind Mike D’Antoni with some of the game’s best scorers, probably involves more talk than substance.

At least in this case, we won’t have to see Spike Lee’s antics on national TV 82 days out of the year.

That same tandem setting up shop in Miami: doubtful at best.

But if the players’ alleged pact actually goes off as planned, fewer teams will reap the benefits. One front office toasts in the boardroom while everyone else sulks with their heads in their hands. The trickle-down effect may ruin some careers in the process.

And imagine if New Jersey, New York, Miami, or Chicago, by whatever reason, only lands Joe Johnson as their summer stud. Why would any self-respecting fan trust their team’s higher ups after such a debacle?

In the free agent frenzy, grand aspirations have mostly drowned out grounded analysis.

Although a tidal wave of signable talent will soon pass through the NBA stratosphere, some team will lose out on this once-in-a-decade opportunity.

Fans who contemplated what to wear at their team’s championship parade next June will instead cross their fingers for a 45-win season.

Game attendees will spend full quarters discussing where their club went wrong in ineffectively wooing Grade A stars. If New Jersey lays an egg, well, what good could possibly come of that?

For all the potential offseason winners, there must be at least one sob story.

Reputations and city cultures matter more than the actual stats in this case. The quick-fix aspect, where struggling franchises can emulate the worst-to-first blueprint Boston created by landing Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in 2008, places at least five more teams in the earliest of early predictions for 2011 title contenders.

Even outlandish rumors make these teams relevant until the official press conferences and handshakes are conducted.

By not getting better, the free agent contenders will be worse off. It’s no fun rooting for a potential lottery team. But rooting for a lottery team that legitimately missed on a fleeting, franchise altering market. Now that’s a real shame.

Uncertainty drives basketball optimists at this point. The glass-half-full approach works well for anyone anticipating their team’s spectacular fortune.

Once phones start ringing and agents starts working their magic next month, the lights will turn on and the party will abruptly end for some blindsided believers.

Be sure to give them a few minutes, and some kind words, once the good times come to a screeching halt.