After playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers for seven seasons, LeBron James has opted to consider offers from other NBA teams. While the decision of the reigning league MVP to declare free agency has already drawn a whirlwind of speculation, according to league rules, teams must wait until the stroke of midnight on July 1 before beginning to woo him. Here, a look at the franchises reported to be at the top of LeBron's list:
Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavs are doing everything possible to keep LeBron, says Terry Pluto in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. This decision ought to be simple, really: Cleveland "can pay him up to $30 million more than anyone else. He can stay home, where he actually will become even a bigger hero than ever — while playing under less pressure." Cleveland may not be the "perfect situation," but the team is making a heck of a good offer.
New York Knicks: The Knicks will try to sway James with a "create your own dynasty" pitch, reports Ian Thomsen at Sports Illustrated. It's part of a "grandiose vision" that also includes recruiting two other big-name free agents "to form a starring trio capable of contending for championships for years to come." The team has enough money to make it happen, and will also use New York City itself — "the world's largest stage" — as a selling point.
Miami Heat: The Heat already have Dwyane Wade and can afford, with some minor monetary concessions, to bring aboard James and Chris Bosh to form a trio of superstars. "Catholics have flocked to confession for thoughts involving far less greed and gluttony than that," says Greg Cote in the Miami Herald. If Miami can pull off this "coup," they'd be "the envy of basketball fans coast to coast."
Chicago Bulls: If the Bulls want James, they need to sell him on "something nobody else can offer": The team's prodigiously talented 21-year old point guard, Derrick Rose, says Rick Morrissey in the Chicago Sun-Times. "Put him together with James and fellow free agent Chris Bosh... and you'd have a hugely talented and hungry core." This wouldn't be a "calculated" combination superstars (a la Miami's pitch), but a "fresh and unique" young team capable of dominating league.
New Jersey Nets: If this is truly a business decision, then the Nets new owner Mikhail Prokhorov has an edge on the competition, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo Sports. The Russian mogul "has carefully crafted a detailed and daring plan to make James a billionaire." Prokhorov will "promise him a vision of turning the franchise into a global basketball destination." Anyone can assure James millions, but Prokhorov is the only one promising billions. If James signs on, and the plan delivers, he'll become "a true international tycoon."