There was a time most NBA fans would have laughed at the possibility of LeBron abandoning Cleveland and reestablishing his legacy elsewhere. None of us would have ever dreamed that LeBron would team up with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh down in South Florida. It just didn't seem possible. As Chris Bosh put it, it seemed like "pie in the sky."
Fast forward to the present time.
LeBron is now a member of the Miami Heat along with Wade and Bosh, and most of the NBA fears what this team is capable of. A game hasn't been played yet and many haters are starting to come out of the woodwork saying that they won't go anywhere, which is a preposterous statement. This team will be incredible.
This recent happening in the NBA has sent shockwaves throughout the rest of the league. Stars are starting to wonder whether it would be possible to form their own "super-teams." Boston started it by acquiring savvy veterans Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to team up with Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo. Miami has continued it. The Knicks are talking about it (a possible Stoudemire/Parker/Paul/Anthony tandem in the future). Mentality has completely changed.
Now, the reason I mention all this has a lot to do with the recent mutterings of Chris Paul. The New Orleans Hornets are not a playoff-bound team and the franchise point guard has been voicing his displeasure of late. If they are unable to retool their roster, then Paul will be heading for greener pastures.
Who can blame him? Why sit and watch all your best buds winning championships together? One can make an argument of loyalty, but that doesn't seem to be much of a concern for players these days. As I said before, the mentality has changed (Kobe might have left had they not made the one-sided deal for Pau Gasol).
Then there's Deron Williams, Paul's rival for best point guard in the NBA. He is the leader of the Utah Jazz and face of the franchise. After all the recent changes in the NBA, does he truly want to remain in Utah for the long run? As a Jazz fan, I hope for the best. I cannot fathom the thought of Williams choosing to sign with a championship contender.
The Jazz are and always have been a playoff contending team. They have a strong front office and a fearsome leader in coach Jerry Sloan. This team will not be in the cellar of the NBA anytime soon. He should have nothing to fear. Are they a title contender, though?
With the likes of LA, Dallas, and Denver above them and other teams rising quickly (Oklahoma City and Portland), it just doesn't seem realistic that the Jazz will ever be capable of bringing home an NBA championship. Don't get me wrong, it's a major dream of mine to see them back in the NBA Finals.
I would be kidding myself if I thought they would be able to take down LA in the Western Conference or Orlando, Boston, Miami in a best of 7 series to win it all. They just don't have enough depth or talent.
They don't seem to be rising in the next few years. With the acquisition of Al Jefferson to replace Carlos Boozer and the emergence of Paul Millsap, they seem to be the exact same team they've been in the past. Just a solid top-5 seed playoff contender. Nothing more, nothing less.
Can Deron Williams accept that? In 2008, he signed a contract extension that should keep him through the rest of the 2011-2012 NBA Season. He has a one-year option after that. Is it possible he could be lured away by other savvy-looking squads in need of a franchise point guard. Will he voice his desire to be in playoff contention like Paul and form a "Big Three" like Lebron?
He hasn't been quiet with his opinion on the way the team should be run. When Ronnie Brewer was traded for nothing, Williams was the first to express his doubt on the direction the franchise was heading. Once Boozer, Korver, and Matthews all skipped town, I started to worry.
My fears were stifled when the Jazz robbed Al Jefferson from Minnesota and Raja Bell agreed to sign. We have yet to see if Hayward can prove to be a viable replacement for Kyle Korver.
But will it last? Can the Jazz compete?
This is all merely speculation and pessimism on my part, but it's something that deserves to be said. It's possible Deron will become bored of never getting over the hump...he will grow jealous of other stars in the league and will long to drink of the champagne that comes with an NBA title (can't drink much of that in Utah anyway).
So the question is, can Utah keep Deron happy enough to keep him for the long-run, or will the consistency of being on a good (not great) playoff team for his entire career (without a ring) be too much for him?
Only time will tell.