Considering how LeBron James told the media a few months ago that he would no longer talk about his impending free agency, he certainly had some kind words about the state of the New Jersey Nets yesterday. Per Dave D’Alessandro:
“I’m not sure,” James said. “I think their record could definitely be better, but they do have some good pieces. I think Brook Lopez, Devin Harris, Courtney Lee and some of those guys — CDR — are some really talented players.”
“It’s a good team. It’s a talented team. They’ve got some really good players,” James repeated. “They’re going to play hard. They got a lot of guys that want to win, and they just have to keep working.”
The New York media is going to continue to paint the LeBron situation as Knicks-or-bust. Take for example Mitch Lawrence’s article yesterday with Knicks color-man Walt “Clyde” Frazier, who believes: “LeBron would gain in stature by coming to the Knicks … I think if he signed with the Knicks, he’d be right up there with Kobe.”
The idea of LeBron James needing New York City to raise his status in the NBA is beyond ridiculous. More than enough people believe James is the best player in the league and a once-in-a-generation talent. The only thing that currently separates him from Kobe Bryant is the fact that Kobe has won a championship. If the Cavs ever paired LeBron with a talent on the level of Shaquille O’Neal circa 2000 or Pau Gasol, I’m sure James would have won a championship by now.
With that said, I would take LeBron’s comments about the Nets yesterday as a positive. No, he’s obviously not going to say that he’s planning to play side-by-side with Devin Harris and Brook Lopez next year, but the fact that he acknowledged the talent currently on roster is a nice nod to the organization. It’s certainly a lot better than what Chris Bosh said about the Nets last month.
When it comes to LeBron’s free agency plans, I think he’s going to go where he believe he’ll have the most lasting legacy – is that sticking it out in Cleveland to bring a championship to his hometown team? Is that taking the challenge of coming to the team like the Knicks or Nets and building them into winners? Is it where he could play with a good friend like Dwyane Wade? Only LeBron knows the answer.
I still put the Nets’ chances of landing LeBron this summer as very slim, but I’m glad the beat writers are still floating this idea out there, instead of deferring to the Knicks guys to carry the conversation.