NBA Free Agency: 10 Reasons Why LeBron James Will Choose the Bulls
Let's face it. No one cared about the 2010 NBA Draft, except maybe Wizards fans.
The real winners are going to be determined in free agency, with the biggest prize being LeBron James.
He could still re-sign with Cleveland, but in the past few days, teams have been shedding salaries left and right to make way for the King.
The Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat in particular now have enough cap room to nearly sign two and three top free agents, respectively.
With the enticing prospect of a South Beach trio featuring James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, many expect James to flee to Miami.
Sorry Heat fans, but that's not happening.
A few days ago, the Bulls were the leaders in the LeBron sweepstakes. After all the draft-day moves have been sorted out, the Bulls are the frontrunners again.
Don't believe me? Here are 10 reasons why LeBron's logical choice is to play in Chicago.
1: Strong Supporting Cast
This is the single-best pitch the Bulls can make to LeBron on July 1.
No one wins championships alone.
Sure you need a second star, and the Heat and Knicks can also provide that with a second free agent. But what about role players? What about scrappy players? What about youth and the hunger to win?
The Bulls have all of that and more.
The Heat currently have two players on contract for 2010. The Knicks have five, but none of them are noteworthy.
The Bulls, on the other hand, have an All-Star point guard in Derrick Rose who has not even come close to reaching his potential.
They have Joakim Noah, a feisty player who gets on opponents' nerves and also puts up massive rebounding numbers. He would be the equivalent of Dennis Rodman back in the 1990s.
They have (at least for now) Luol Deng, who hasn't quite lived up to his potential, but is still only in his mid-20s and would make a fantastic third or fourth option on the floor.
They have Taj Gibson, who made the NBA's All-Rookie Team last season, despite being picked in the late first round.
Each of those players is better than any player currently on the Knicks or Heat. Yes, even Michael Beasley.
The Bulls, Knicks, and Heat are all going to have to sign players to minimum contracts if they give max deals to multiple free agents. So might as well have a solid seven-man rotation before having to dip into the mediocre players.
Supposing Bosh comes with James:
PG - Derrick Rose
SG - Luol Deng
SF - LeBron James
PF - Chris Bosh
C - Joakim Noah
SG/SF - James Johnson
SF/PF - Taj Gibson
Not bad at all.
2: Tough but Successful Coach
He has a connection to LeBron through their agent. But the real connection should be the desire to win.
Both Thibodeau and James have something to prove to the NBA community. Thibodeau has to prove he is more than just an assistant coach for life. The head coaches he has worked for have heaped praise upon him. But will he be able to translate to the leader of the team?
For James, it's obvious. He needs to prove he wants to win, and he has to prove he can win. The Cavaliers tried everything they could to surround him with talent, and he still fell short.
James is entering the prime of his career. At age 52, Thibodeau probably only gets one shot at being a successful head coach. Both of them have a lot on the line.
Fortunately, pairing them up would achieve both of their goals. Thibodeau is a student of the game and a coach who is always prepared. That was something James sorely missed in Cleveland with Mike Brown, which is of course why Brown is no longer there.
James would respect Thibodeau's toughness and his dedication to being the best and most prepared. Mike D'Antoni has not proven he can win a championship with his style of basketball.
3: Playing In A Big Market
James wants more than just good teammates and a good coach. He wants national and global exposure. Kobe Bryant has it in Los Angeles. Paul Pierce has it in Boston.
New York, Chicago, and Miami are all large markets, in that order. The difference is minuscule, though.
Technically, it's a difference of a few million people, but in the end, the difference between New York and Chicago is much less than between New York and Oklahoma City, or New York and Charlotte.
Chicago is bigger than Cleveland, which is all that really matters. No way would James move to a city that was smaller and farther from his hometown.
Nothing gained, nothing lost.
4: He Would Still Be
If LeBron decided to play for the Heat, would he be the team's No. 1 option? Yes, probably.
Would he be the sentimental favorite of the city and the fans? Not a chance.
Miami is Dwyane Wade's city. He wowed everyone when he brought the Heat their first championship alongside Shaquille "Superman" O'Neal.
Wade is Flash. He is no Boy Wonder.
As much as Wade and James get along when playing in the All-Star Game or in the Olympics, things would not end well if they were on the same team.
Both players are used to having the offense run through them.
Both players are used to taking the clutch shots.
Both players are used to being "the man."
In Chicago, that would not be an issue. People claim that the Bulls' offense runs through Rose, and to some extent that is true. However, he has the quiet, determined, unselfish personality that would allow him to be the second option behind LeBron without a problem.
Joakim Noah? He's the gritty big man, not a major offensive threat. Same with Luol Deng. He feeds off other players creating with the ball.
The Knicks would obviously make LeBron James "the man" as well. They would probably make him part-owner if he wanted it. But deep down, James has to know it takes more than himself to win a championship.
If he forgot, he just has to look at the end of this season.
5: Great Sports City
The Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup can and should be a major focus of the Bulls' pitch to LeBron James.
Look at how Chicago rallied around its hockey team. A few years ago, people did not care about the Blackhawks. They were completely irrelevant on the Chicago sports scene.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when Jonathan Toews is the hero of the city and thousands upon thousands of people flocked the streets in celebration of winning the Stanley Cup.
This is a city that loves sports. Chicago is one of a handful of cities that has franchises in all four major sports. Miami, where's your hockey team?
Yes, New York trumps Chicago with two teams in baseball, football, and hockey. And it's a pretty big sports city too.
But there will be no parade if there is no championship. And the Bulls, unlike the Knicks, can actually build a legitimate team around James.
6: Becoming the Next Bulls Legend
The Chicago Bulls are among the most successful NBA franchises of all time, trailing only the Lakers and Celtics.
But when you think about it, with the exception of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, Chicago has not really had any great basketball players.
LeBron James could be the next one.
Teams like the Celtics and Lakers won championships in bunches, utilizing different Hall of Famers each time. LeBron could be the focal point of the Bulls' second go-around at multiple championships.
The Knicks have a history of losing, especially during the Patrick Ewing era. The Heat have already won a championship with Wade. Therefore Wade would always have one more title than James as long as the two were teammates.
James wants to carve his own path. Jordan's shadow is long gone. The Bulls are in need of a star to bring them back to the top of the game, and James should be the one to do so.
7: His Favorite Team While Growing Up
This is not surprising, considering the Bulls were in the middle of their dynasty years when James was young.
Will playing for his favorite childhood team make an impact on his decision? For the Bulls, it certainly can't hurt.
He clearly loved playing for the Cavaliers and staying close to home, so emotions do play a role for James. They might play such a large role that he chooses not to leave Cleveland.
But even if he did leave Cleveland for Chicago, he would still be...
8: Staying In The Midwest
Chicago is a straight shot west from Cleveland. I just checked Google Maps, and it is approximately 343 miles, or about a five and a half hour drive.
Or much, much shorter on a private jet.
If family and home is so important to James, then relocating to Chicago would not be nearly as big of an adjustment as New York or Miami. This is not so much a basketball factor as it is a personal factor.
These teams competing for LeBron are essentially also trying to detach him from his home. Non-basketball factors are certainly going to come into play as James makes his final decision.
9: The Number 23
By now, everyone knows of LeBron's plan to change his number from 23 to 6. He says it is to honor Michael Jordan.
Sounds like he has a lot of respect for Jordan and what he accomplished. He would probably like to do the same things. Maybe even in the same team uniform.
It could be argued that he just wants to change numbers to generate more jersey sales (like when Kobe changed from 8 to 24).
Or it could be argued that he intended to change numbers because he knew he could not wear No. 23 on his future team.
Neither are likely 100 percent true. But when he talked about Jordan, you could hear respect and reverence in his voice. It makes sense since the Bulls were his favorite team growing up.
It also shows he wants to carve his own path. What better place to set yourself apart from Jordan, yet still be mentioned in the same breath as him, than in Chicago?
10: Chicago Style Pizza And Hot Dogs
OK, I'll admit, this is probably not even going through James' mind at all. Though Doc Rivers apparently told Thibodeau that he would have to be careful not to gain too much weight because of all the good food in Chicago.
If James gained any more weight, no one in the league could stop him. As if they can now.
While nothing is certain, the Bulls are in a very good position to acquire LeBron James and set themselves up for multiple title runs. As long as their pitch highlights several of the aforementioned factors, James would be a fool not to play in the Windy City next season.