The time has finally arrived for the most anticipated offseason in NBA history, and probably the most hyped offseasons in the history of team sports.
Over the last couple weeks, rumors have been flying around the media with speculation of where LeBron James will land. Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, New Jersey, and New York have all been rumored destinations for The King. But, in all reality, who knows where James will choose? In the end, this is all just speculation to feed a rumor-hungry society that just wants something to talk about.
Either way, the basketball world is waiting on LeBron James to make his decision, so teams with money can resort to their plan B, as well as make other personnel decisions.
If James decides to ditch Cleveland and team up with Dwyane Wade in Miami, here is how the dominoes of free agency will fall after that.
It seems all but definite that Chris Bosh will depart Canada with Raptors General Manager Bryan Colangelo even saying its likely their star forward will not resign with the team.
Bosh was also quoted saying that he is waiting on LeBron's decision before he makes his, meaning that he will most likely follow James to wherever he goes. And if Miami is where James is headed, then its likely Bosh will make his way to South Beach as well.
Whether its through a sign-and-trade (which seems highly unlikely with Miami's only trading chips being Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers) or Bosh signing straight up with the Heat, this would greatly shift the balance of power in the Eastern Conference.
Miami would become the powerhouse with an extremely dominant trio in LBJ, Bosh, and Dwyane Wade.
However, I don't see LeBron coming to Miami, which means this scenario is highly unlikely. But, if he does, expect Bosh to quickly follow.
With LeBron James and Chris Bosh being the Knicks preferred free agents, they would have to settle for other players on the market should James and Bosh sign with the Heat.
While there is still a good chance Stoudemire re-signs with Suns after a successful postseason run, he could be very tempted to dart for the Big Apple to become an even bigger star in a bigger market.
Also, Joe Johnson has been rumored to be courted by the Knicks for a while now, with the interest being mutual. The combination of Stoudemire and Johnson could form a formidable inside-outside game for New York. Those two wouldn't be a bad consolation prize if the Knicks lose out on the LeBron sweepstakes.
Along with Miami, the Chicago Bulls have been the team with the most hype concerning LeBron and Bosh. Numerous reports have surfaced saying that Bron and Bosh will sign in Chicago in order to form a stellar core with budding superstar Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.
However, the fact still remains that Chicago is Michael Jordan's city and not LeBron's. Can James really just throw on a Bulls uniform and attempt to fill the shoes of the biggest basketball legend in history?
LeBron already changed his number in order to pay respect to MJ, which means maybe he is thinking he can't replace Jordan's legacy in Chicago.
So, if LBJ and Bosh do end up in Miami, it would leave Chicago with a whole bunch of salary cap space and limited options. It might be able to reel in Carlos Boozer or a Dirk Nowitzki, but if it doesn't end up with James, then I expect its offseason to be a failure.
While Carlos Boozer might fall under the radar with his name being overshadowed by the likes of James, Bosh, Wade, and Stoudemire, he will still be a coveted backup option.
However, he has been very successful in Utah and had a great second half the season last year. Utah has said their No. 1 priority this offseason is to retain Boozer and he publicly stated that he still likes Utah.
The only team I feel that could lure Boozer away is Miami, but if they land James and Bosh, Boozer will be pretty much forced to stay in Utah.
While the Bulls or Nets might court him, I think he will ultimately remain with the Jazz and their strong core of Deron Williams, Paul Millsap, and Andre Kirilenko.
This might sound absurd considering Pierce is one of the greatest Celtics of all time and is one of the few players that has been in only one uniform his entire career. He also has won a championship with Boston.
However, the Celtics Game Seven Finals defeat at the hands of the Lakers brings up a lot of questions for Boston. Ray Allen is a free agent, Rasheed Wallace retired, and Kevin Garnett isn't getting any younger, which means Boston's window of opportunity in the East is likely closed.
And with Pierce deciding to opt of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent, it becomes a lot more likely he will leave. He is on the tail end of his career and if Boston can't stay competitive next season, there is not much incentive for Pierce to stay other than his loyalty to the franchise and its fans.
And if LeBron and Bosh end up in Miami, the power dramatically shifts in the East, which means Pierce will probably want to dart to a contender. He could end up in Chicago or New Jersey if they get a few more pieces together.
If LBJ and Bosh end up in Miami with Wade, that takes the three biggest free agents off the market and destroys a lot of franchises hopes.
Teams will start to get desperate to use their cap space and will resort to any means in order to improve their rosters. The teams that get left out like Chicago and/or New Jersey will look to players like Rudy Gay, David Lee, and John Salmons.
The Bulls could offer someone like Luol Deng or Taj Gibson plus draft picks to Memphis in order to acquire Gay if they were to do a sign-and-trade. Also, with the Nets recently trading away Yi Jianlian, they might look to acquire David Lee to have a deep frontcourt of Lee, newly drafted Derrick Favors, and Brooke Lopez.
Either way, teams are not just going to sit around and fold if they can't get LBJ and Bosh.
If LeBron and Bosh sign with the Heat, Miami will skyrocket to one of the biggest sports markets in the nation and become a media frenzy. All eyes will be centered on the greatest trio in NBA history.
When free agents are deciding where to sign, Miami will be unfairly easy destination to sell, with three marquee players, immediate championship contention, and the atmosphere of South Beach.
I could see players like Ray Allen, Josh Howard, and Raymond Felton rounding out the Heat's core.