At the stroke of midnight on July 1st, the window to negotiate with free agents in the NBA opened. This year is the biggest period of free agency since the summer of 2010, when top stars, such as Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, and Carlos Boozer all had the liberty to decide the next step in their career.
The wait came to an end by July 8th, 2010 when Lebron James made his infamous “Decision” to “take his talents to South Beach (Miami)” to join Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to form the self-proclaimed “Best big three ever.” After 4 seasons together, ups and downs, attention all around them, they ended up going to the finals 4 straight years and winning back to back NBA championships in the middle of it all. They came together to sacrifice and win championships, which they’ve succeeded in doing.
Many people are constantly criticizing the whole situation, but in reality, what they’ve accomplished makes for a great resume if you ask me, and a part of NBA history. Only 4 teams have gone to 4+ straight finals: the Boston Celtics (Bill Russell/Red Auerbach era, 1957-1966) went 10 straight seasons, Los Angeles Lakers (Magic Johnson/Pat Riley era, 1982-1985) 4 straight years, and then the Celtics again for 4 years (Larry Bird era, 1984-1987).
The “Big Three” might be no more, as Chris Sheridan of www.sheridanhoops.com is reporting that Lebron James has made up his mind about free agency. Lebron has deliberately been taking his time with his decision, but hasn’t been in public eye. Although his agent, Rich Paul, has been busy at work, secretly meeting with teams to see what their pitch will be, Lebron has only been to one meeting.
On Wednesday, he took some time out of his basketball skills camp in Las Vegas to meet with Heat President Pat Riley. Sheridan reports that Wednesday night, he discussed the options with his family over dinner and that Pat Riley was not able to change his mind; Lebron James is returning to play for his hometown and original team, Cleveland Cavaliers.
There has been some small moves thus far in July, including the Heat agreeing to terms with two role players earlier in the week to try to sway Lebron to stay, Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger. The Cavaliers made a similar move when they cleared up some cap space to now have 20+ million dollars worth of room (cough cough, just enough to afford Lebron).
Some other free agents have resigned such as Dirk Nowitzki returning to the Mavericks, Kyle Lowry staying in Toronto, and Marcin Gortat back to guide the young core in Washington (who by the way will be very good for years to come). Young, exciting restricting free agents, Chandler Parsons of the Rockets, and Gordon Hayward of the Jazz have gone ahead and signed offer sheets, with the Mavericks and Hornets.
Other big names are in the waiting phase, such as his Heat teammates, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, and Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks. Then there are the second tier players who are seeing what the market will be like for Small Forwards/teams have them as contingency plans in case they can’t/couldn’t land the aforementioned stars. These include defensive minded Trevor Ariza, hard-working Luol Deng, nonstop hustler/headache Lance Stephenson, and an aging Paul Pierce.
As we all have been and will continue sitting and refreshing Twitter every two seconds, we (might) be able to rest easy, as this Sheridan report seems like real substance. Sheridan reports that Lebron will announce his decision on http://www.lebronjames.com before Saturday, when he heads to Brazil to watch the World Cup final. Once that officially happens, the dominos will fall into place with free agency, and it will all be a blur, with news breaking every second.
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