‘Bron Gone’ sweepstakes will be ferocious

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 15, 2010

When asked to address the fans of Cleveland after Thurday’s elimination loss to Boston, the LeBron James said, “We had a great time together.”

He can’t leverage the Cavs into paying him more — he’s getting the NBA Max, and that’s never been a question.

That he hasn’t signed yet was an ominous sign for Cleveland fans already. At worst, it meant he had already made up his mind, at best, it meant he was waiting to see what the Cavs were made of.

After Thursday, neither scenario really works for the Cav faithful.

James jumping ship would be the biggest sports story in many years … his decision this summer has been talked about ad nauseum dating back to even the beginning of last season.

Furthermore, since he’s not the only big name free agent on the market (it’s laden with All-Stars including Dwyane Wade, Amare Stoudemire, Chris Bosh and Joe Johnson), many teams have cleared a ton of space knowing that if the pursuit of Bron falls through, there are ample backup plans.

Not since Orlando was able to sign both Tracy McGrady and Grant Hill in the same offseason have players of superstar magnitude had the choice to sign somewhere and essentially choose their “tag-team partner”. That tandem didn’t work out after Hill’s career was compromised by injuries. But Hill’s misfortune won’t stop a team from taking another crack at that setup.

If James signs with the Knicks: NY has the cap room for two Max players or close, so … he can choose his own weapon. Bosh, Wade, Stoudamire, Johnson … I doubt it’ll take much convincing to get one of those guys on board to win with The King. Any would be the best teammate he’s ever had. The Knicks don’t have a lot of firepower now, but two legit superstars can be all the difference between 30 and 60 wins – imagine the Bulls trying to win in the 90s with Horace Grant as the lead guy and without MJ and Scottie. BJ Armstrong wasn’t delivering postseason berths, just like Chris Duhon isn’t now.

If James signs with the Bulls: It’s ready made for him. Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah are already in tow, the Bulls are one of the league’s better defensive teams. Adding James to that mix probably makes them the favorites in the East, and certainly does if Rose can take another step forward to fulfilling his potential. The drawback: Would he really want to sign somewhere where he’d forever be in Jordan’s shadow? But then again: this is the same man who wears 23. Perhaps he has no problem with another tribute.

If James signs with the Nets: This is more likely than most are considering.

The Nets were indeed miserable this past season. But with Brook Lopez, Devin Harris and a likely top three pick (John Wall?), adding Bron could literally take this team from worst to first.

Add to that: Jay-Z is one of LeBron’s idols, and he’s a minority owner. And the move to Brooklyn doesn’t hurt.

If James signs with Miami: James and Wade could happen in New York too, and I think it’s likelier there. Miami’s roster without Wade is no better than New York’s current setup, and it’s hard for me to imagine that revitalizing Madison Square Garden wouldn’t be atop the list of “things that would stroke a star’s ego”.

If James signs with the Hornets: It would take 100 things to happen and the odds are about 60 quazillion to one.

But if it happened … I think I’d be searching newspaper clippings, trying to figure out on exactly what day I died and went to Heaven. I’d probably find my unfortunate accident happened sometime in 2009, or before Super Bowl XLIV.