Since the Cavaliers lost in the playoffs, the speculation of where LeBron James would play next year has run rampant. I've seen many Bulls fans get awfully excited over the possibility, but most of us (including myself) still feel too hesitant to commit to the idea emotionally. It's simply hard to accept that we could get that lucky.
It makes me wonder, should we simply take things at face value here or are we right to be cautious with our emotions on this one?
Taking it on face value:
1: Chris Broussard reported that LeBron has Chicago at the top of his list.
2: Adrian Wojnarowski reported that World Wide Wes is whispering LeBron wants to come to Chicago
3: There have been no reports from other sources that LeBron wants to go to a different team, simply opinion pieces that a different team might work better.
4: LeBron has taken several actions to divorce himself from Cleveland (including not being that involved in their coaching search or whether various FO people stay or leave, the first time LeBron hasn't been running the show and giving input for quite some time)
5: Out of the team's he could go to, only Miami can put together as much talent, but he's not the clear #1 player in Miami (which may or may not be important to him).
6: LeBron loves Chicago and works out here in the summers anyway.
7: LeBron grew up a Bulls / Jordan fan, not a Cavs fan.
The arguments against Chicago right now simply aren't based on much except conjecture. He could possibly put together a superstar trio in Miami with Wade and Bosh. He'll want to play for the bright lights of NY. He won't want to leave home. Any of those things might be possible, but we haven't really read credible reports pointing to them.
I can make the case for Miami. Wade and LeBron would become instant favorites to win, and they still might be able to add Bosh with a S&T to Toronto. I believe all three guys can still get the max if Toronto takes back Beasley/Chalmers in a S&T. The rest of the roster would be minimum salary players, but with those three what else would you need? They'd be the favorite for as long as they remained healthy, and would likely be completely unstoppable.
The downside to that plan is simply that LeBron would never get the same impact on his legacy if he wins with Wade and Bosh as teammates. Wade would retire with more rings, and LeBron wouldn't be the clear leader. Heck, he might not even win finals MVP and end up stuck in the situation with Kobe where people start trying to figure out how much to weigh his first three titles in historical context because he wasn't the best player.
The case for New York is somewhat compelling too. He can bring Bosh with him most likely, and they'll still be one of the top teams even if not the pure favorite out the gates in year one. The extra money New York brings would be large, and the media attention would fly through the roof.
However, he's stated he's serious about winning titles, and even with Chris Bosh, that team looks like it could be pretty far away. LeBron + Bosh + Galinari + Douglas + Chandler + 7 guys at the minimum isn't a title team in year one, and they don't have much in the way of assets to get there in years two+ either.
The case for Cleveland is simply built around his loyalty to the city. Is LeBron that loyal to Cleveland? I don't know, maybe. I'm sure he loves it there and is used to it there, but when given the "do it for the city" speech, he's responded that he needs to do what's best for him, so I don't think that pull is strong enough.
If he stays in Cleveland, he's highly unlikely to win in the next three years. They don't have the players around him now, nor do they have any assets to get better. They aren't getting good draft picks, don't have cap room to spend, and much of their talent is in serious decline (Shaq, Z, Jamison).
When you add everything up, Chicago feels like the perfect combination of money, winning, and a city LeBron would want to play in. They could potentially add Chris Bosh via S&T to complement him, and they'd be the overwhelming favorite to win the title for the next five seasons.
Yet unlike the Miami situation, they'd be the favorite in such a way that leaves LeBron as the undisputed alpha dog of the team. He'd have tons of marketing opportunities in Chicago, and despite NY's population, travel around the world, and the Knicks are an unknown entity relative to the Bulls. Chicago actually has the #1 fanbase world wide due to his Airness, and LeBron wants worldwide branding.
When I look at the facts, no team should have a better chance than Chicago. In fact, the facts tell me that Chicago maybe has a high enough chance to be taken over the field, but I can't commit. I can't get my hopes up that high, not yet, not out loud. But in April I swore this was my last year as a season ticket holder and in May put down my deposit for next year.