2010 NBA Draft Results: Now Which Team Has Best Shot at LeBron James?
The focus of the 2010 NBA Draft was certainly built around constructing the future of NBA teams. However, there were ulterior motives for a number of teams. Those motives? Putting themselves in position for a better, more convincing pursuit of LeBron James.
Trades of current roster players, rights to draft picks and draft picks themselves were all executed with eyes firmly affixed on the pursuit of the biggest free agent in NBA history. So, after draft night which teams are in the best position to land LeBron?
5. New Jersey Nets
The Nets held on to one of their three draft picks last night, in big man and third overall pick Derrick Favors. The Nets dealt Jordan Crawford, their 27th overall pick, to Atlanta and shipped center Tibor Pleiss to Oklahoma City.
The Nets are doing all they can to keep their cap space at a minimum before the July 1 opening to free agency. They brought in a possible future star in Favors, but the lack of another big name (like Chris Paul) likely keeps the Nets at the back of the pack.
4. Los Angeles Clippers
Prior to the draft, the Clippers were trying to shop their eighth overall pick in an effort to free up some more cap space. They didn't and instead drafted the best talent remaining on the board in small forward Al-Farouq Aminu.
Aminu doesn't fit the mold in any particular position, which is a good thing for the Clippers and their pursuit of LeBron James. James would lock down the small forward position, allowing Aminu to play a hybrid forward position. The Clippers are loaded with young talent, but the lack of a second big star also leaves them in the back of the pack looking up.
3. Miami Heat
The Heat held onto Michael Beasley and all three of their second round picks including Dexter Pittman (pictured), Jarvis Varnado (PF, Mississippi State) and Latavious Williams (PF, NBDL).
The amount of second picks gives the Heat flexibility regarding cap space and who they hold on to. In the end, however, the Heat did not do much to improve their positioning. They remain a hopeful holdout that can lure LeBron with the promise of playing with Dwyane Wade.
2. New York Knicks
The New York Knicks weren't necessarily conservative in their draft approach, but they didn't exactly do anything that will pique LeBron's interest. Two reaches in the selections of Syracuse's Andy Rautins and Stanford's Landry Fields doesn't quite bring muscle to the Knicks roster.
But the Knicks' pursuit of LeBron James had nothing to do with the draft. The Knicks have the most money and are banking on the Big Apple to attract LeBron. The Knicks may have been the favorite prior to the draft, but their positioning has only been altered for one reason...
1. Chicago Bulls
...the Bulls keep putting themselves in better position. The Bulls sent Kirk Hinrich to the Wizards for a future second pick. More importantly, the trade officially gives the Bulls enough cap space to pursue to max contract free agents in LeBron and most likely Chris Bosh.
Bosh says he's going to wait for LeBron to decide before he signs a deal, but the Bulls have the pieces in place for the most serious run at LeBron and his future star partner.