LeBron and the Cavs’ path to the Eastern Conference semi-finals and a meeting with the Orlando Magic took a bit of a detour last night when the Celtics beat the Cavs in blowout fashion winning 104-86 (and it wasn’t even that close). Nobody really though about what would happen if the Cavs lose in the second round to the Celtics because nobody (including myself) thought that was a possibility. So what happen if the Cavs lose? Jay Mariotti thinks that LeBron is out of there:
“Relax,” he could have said at the pre-game ceremony. “I’m staying five more years.”
But James refuses to soothe fears that he still might leave the Cavaliers in free agency this summer. He prefers to keep playing his public poker game and let it veer into a frantic climax come July 1, when he finally can negotiate with the Knicks, Nets, Bulls, Heat and even the Clippers and Wizards if his masochistic side prefers. Maybe he’s remaining mum right now for a very good reason.
If the Cavs flop again in the playoffs, he might be looking for the nearest escape hatch out of town.
If you want my opinion, LeBron is staying, but for those holding out hope that LeBron will become a Net, the Cavs losing to the Celtics is probably the most likely way that it would happen. What else could Cleveland do to put a winner on the court? Not much. If LeBron does leave, I still think the best landing spot for him is New Jersey…er…Brooklyn.
One of the reasons I think the Nets is the best landing spot for LeBron is Brook Lopez. In just his second year, Brook Lopez is starting to make a claim that he might be the second best center in the east. He has a solid back to the basket game, a nice shot, and he runs the floor very well. Jordan Schultz from NBA Fanhouse tends to agree:
Perhaps the most well-rounded big man in this tier, Lopez is a true center in every sense of the word. Despite playing for the awful Nets, he was a bright spot in east New Jersey all season long, flourishing in his second professional season. Defensively, he’s a shutdown block artist (1.70 per game) who utilizes his tremendous length to clog driving lanes and force errant shot attempts.
He runs the floor well, either filling the lane on fast breaks or creating excellent low-post position. He has terrific hands, the type of huge oven mitts you want from a big guy. He can score from either block and has a surprisingly useful left hand for such a young player. Plus, he’s an 82 percent free-throw shooter, ensuring he’ll be on the floor late in games. Unlike many of his peers, Lopez’s game is predicated off of footwork and a diverse skill set. His combination of hooks, up-and-unders and overall cleverness around the basket make him the best young center in the game today not named Dwight Howard. If the Nets acquire a gifted passer like John Wall or Evan Turner in the draft, there’s no telling how good Lopez can be.
It makes me happy whenever Brook Lopez gets some love. He made such a jump from his first year to his second year, but it doesn’t really get talked about much because he was playing for the worst team in the NBA last year. On most nights Brook was the only one really doing work on the offensive end, and that’s even when he faces a barrage of double and triple teams.