With almost everyone trying to read between the lines and draw a conclusion as to what James will do — he will reportedly announce his decision fairly early in the show — there are two very different questions the Cavaliers and their fans have to be asking:
- Would James be doing an hour-long special in prime time simply to announce he was staying in Cleveland?
- And, from the totally opposite perspective, would he force Northeast Ohio fans to endure all this if he were going to rip their hearts out and announce he was headed elsewhere?
Only James knows which one of those is more applicable, and there’s a chance even he might not know for sure just yet.
The leading contenders now appear to be Cleveland, Chicago, Miami and New York, with New Jersey having an outside chance of landing the two-time reigning league MVP.
It looked like the Bulls had fallen out of the picture, but they agreed to terms with free agent Carlos Boozer on Wednesday and still have enough salary cap room to sign another player to a max contract.
“In the back of his head, he doesn’t really want to leave this place,” Cavaliers reserve Jamario Moon said prior to a workout with James, Danny Green and 2009 first-round pick Christian Eyena at the University of Akron.
Asked what his gut told him, the always affable Moon joked that he likes to keep his gut clean.
“We can’t get anything out of him,” Moon said prior to the workout. He later added, “I’m going to be watching TV (tonight) like everybody else.”
The workout was also attended by new coach Byron Scott, who did not speak to James prior to leaving, and assistant Chris Jent, who has developed a close relationship with the small forward as his personal shooting coach.
“I’m always hopeful,” Scott told reporters, adding he was keeping his fingers crossed.
“The Decision,” which will feature ESPN employees Stuart Scott and Jon Barry in the studio and reportedly grant the first questions after James’ announcement to Michael Wilbon and Jim Gray, is expected to be held in Greenwich, Conn., just outside New York City.
James, an Akron native, was reportedly filming several segments in his hometown prior to the show, whose proceeds will go to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, one of his charities.
There are a number of ways this could all play out, with James, who did invite Cavaliers players to work out with him, simply deciding to re-sign with Cleveland very much among them.
There are legitimate reasons for concern, however.
By agreeing to terms with Boozer — today is the earliest contracts can officially be signed — the Bulls could potentially field a starting lineup of Derrick Rose and James at guard, Luol Deng and Boozer at forward and Joakim Noah in the middle, though it’s not clear exactly how James feels about Boozer leaving Cleveland high and dry in 2004.
Miami agreed to terms Wednesday with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and, though it doesn’t have quite enough cap space to add three max free agents, it can come fairly close. Those players will recoup some of their lost money due to the fact Florida doesn’t have a state income tax.
“I’m not opposed to taking less money,” Wade said on ESPN.
Whether the three superstars could coexist on the court and in the locker room is another matter, but the Heat can’t be ruled out. The three players reportedly talked late Tuesday night, with Wade and Bosh supposedly trying to convince James to join them in Miami.
The Knicks, who recently agreed to terms with free agent Amar’e Stoudemire, can offer James the allure of The Big Apple and perhaps even bigger celebrity status than he already has, if that’s possible, but they don’t have nearly as good a roster as the Cavaliers.
Cleveland can counter by giving James about $29 million more over six years than any other team can give him over five, though it’s doubtful James will sign for that long.
The Cavaliers also have their proximity to Akron, a proven track record, a solid roster and owner Dan Gilbert on their side.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.