NBA FINALS 2017 Cleveland Cavaliers
Back in May, I wrote about how the Bulls could again make a free agent for LeBron James if and when he opts out of his contract with the Heat in July of ’14. It was the first time we started to hear about the Bulls 2014 plan, and it made me throw up in my mouth a little. As much as Bulls fans hate waiting and and have been devastated in failed free agent chases, there aren’t many options to finally pair Derrick Rose with a superstar. My ill-fated dream of seeing this year’s Bulls team shit the bed and get into the lottery was a slap in the face of the X’s and O’s brilliance of Tom Thibodeau. Kevin Love is an intriguing dream, but trying to predict what David Kahn is going to do is a nightmare that no other GM wants to deal with.
While the 2014 plan is insulting to fans that pay top dollar for tickets, there just isn’t any other way for this team to make the jump from pseudo contender to legitimate contender. And that’s where LeBron James comes in…Again.
There are already whispers that James will opt out of his deal with Miami after next season, and why wouldn’t there be? James isn’t dumb, he sees Dwyane Wade falling apart at the seems, and he knows he’ll be a shell of his former self after two more long playoff runs. And now that James has tasted championship success, there’s no doubt he wants to set himself up for future title runs beyond his current contract.
So where to, should he decide to bolt South Beach?
Common sense says he’ll return to Cleveland as the conquering hero to finally bring that cursed city a championship. That’s possible with emergence of Kyrie Irving into a top flight point guard, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson, but will James ever want to deal with Dan Gilbert again after the owner slammed him so cruelly? I don’t see it, but it’s possible Gilbert would get on his knees and beg James to return. Still though, why return to Cleveland after you’ve lived in Miami the past couple of years? Like Joakim Noah said… who do you know that goes to Cleveland on vacation?
There’s also talk of the Lakers making a run at LeBron to pair him with Dwight Howard and forge a new L.A. power once Kobe’s contract is up that same summer. This makes the most sense on paper, but would you decide to ride with Howard’s diva ass after the bullshit he’s pulled the past two years? One, he’s not the same player physically after his back surgery. Two, his shoulder injury could hinder him for years (shoulders are never the same after a Labrum tear). And, he’s still as immature as anyone in the game not named DeMarcus Cousins. Is he your ticket to multiple championships? That answer is no in case you were thinking about it.
And who knows, Doo-wight might be in Dallas, Brooklyn or Atlanta by then. Wherever he is, he’s proven he isn’t anywhere near the caliber of player that James could team up with in Chicago.
Luol Deng’s $14.275 million comes off the books after next season, and the Bulls can also amnesty Carlos Boozer and his $16.8 million to create the cap space needed to offer James a max deal. If that happened, the Bulls would only have Rose’s $18.8 million, Joakim Noah’s $13.1 million, Taj Gibson’s $8 million and options for Jimmy Butler at $2.1 million and Marquis Teague at just over $2 million on the books. That’s only slightly over $44 million in salary committed to the ’14-’15 season. However, that doesn’t include what Nikola Mirotic would make should he come over that summer.
Either way, the Bulls are sitting pretty should James decide to have eyes for other teams. Now that he’s tasted the ultimate prize, he’s going to want to rack up as many rings as possible. He sees Kobe desperately trying to win a 6th title at the end of his career and he wants to avoid that drama as much as possible.
I get it, Bulls fans… You want to wait another year and a half for a title team as much as you want to keep whining and dining that girl you’ve been trying to sleep with for weeks or God forbid months. It sucks, but there’s no choice if you want to see your team beat the Thunder in the Finals over the course of the next 5-7 years. Durant and Westbrook aren’t going anywhere, and you have to plan to beat them as much beating the Heat.
LeBron James will leave Miami in July of ’14, and the Bulls will be again prime position to land him. Will Rose recruit him this time, and will he be open to welcoming another alpha dog to his city? Those will be the biggest questions, but perhaps Rose will see his own vulnerability once he returns from this injury and realize he needs help to win the rings he salivates over. And there’s no better help than LeBron James.