The impending free agency of LeBron James this summer is obviously going to be major storyline throughout this season, especially with the New York Knicks (and yes, the Nets) expected to make a run at him, but a column by Brian Schmitz in the Orlando Sentinel this morning is a bit of a head-scratcher.
In the column, Schmitz clearly doesn’t want to wait for the summer to find out where LeBron may end up (again, in all likelihood, he’s going to stay with the Cavs because they can offer him the most money, but facts like that don’t make good column fodder outside of Cleveland). So, while calling LeBron a “diva” in the process, Schmitz advises the Cavs to trade their franchise player mid-season in a variety of scenarios, including one where the Nets would send Devin Harris to Cleveland.
LeBron wants the best for his Cleveland Cavaliers, but he isn’t willing to make a commitment. In the real world, the Cavs should demand an answer now. But this is diva basketball, so they are at his mercy and will wait to see how the postseason plays out.
A possibility looms that the Cavs might have to trade him, most likely in a sign-and-trade this summer if he says he’s resigning, not re-signing.
Schmitz sees the most practical secenario as a mid-season trade so the Cavs could net some real talent. His first suggestion, a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers for Andrew Bynum (their salaries, $15.7 million for LeBron and $12.5 million for Bynum are kind of close). Granted just the thought of this trade and the idea of LeBron and Kobe on the same team together, dominating the Western Conference until the end of time, just made me vomit in my mouth a little. Okay, I’m better.
Other trade scenarios in addition to the Devo-for-Lebron deal mentioned above? LeBron to Orlando for Vince Carter, to Denver for Carmelo Anthony, to Atlanta for Joe Johnson, to Phoenix for Amare’ Stoudemire, to Toronto for Chris Bosh, to New Orleans for Chris Paul and to the Knicks for …. well, he really doesn’t propose a name here but I guess he felt inclined to include them because they’re the New York Knicks damnit and the entire NBA is just so desperate to make Madison Square Garden matter again that they’re continuing to build this storyline up despite how illogical it is.
So it seems like Schmitz’s solution to LeBron-a-palooza is to just trade him for some other team’s best players and let the chips fall where they may. I guess that idea makes sense if you ignore some other things, most notably there is no way Cleveland would ever trade LeBron mid-season, and they still have the best chance to resign him at the end of the season just based on dollars and cents. I understand the LeBron-Shaq tandem is off to a shaky start, but it’s not like the Cavs are 0-7 right now (ahem). You would think the Cavs would want to wait a little longer for the team to gel, or try to acquire more complimentary talent at the trade deadline before giving up on their franchise guy and the best player in the NBA.
As for the idea of a Devin-LeBron idea – with Devo out with his groin injury, it’s certainly a great time to think about what this Nets team would look like if the organization was able to trade him for another superstar, but it goes against what the Nets seems to be attempting to do here. The team’s much talked-about salary relief this summer will come in the form of dead weight players like Bobby Simmons, Rafer Alston and Tony Battie. By cutting out those guys and adding a superstar like LeBron or whoever to the Nets young core of Harris-Lopez-Lee-CDR-TWill, the Nets will instantly become one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. Why trade Devin Harris away for LeBron when it seems like all it could potentially take this summer is money to get him here?