I've been a strong proponent of the theory that LeBron will leave the Cavaliers even if he doesn't go to Chicago. However, with the information that LeBron will take a few days to decide, I have to think that he's returning to Cleveland now.
In general, I'll give LeBron some credit for not becoming a media whore with all this. He put himself in a position where he's not doing interviews, tweeting away, or doing anything else. Not that there's anything wrong with becoming a media spectacle, but for those accusing James of being an attention whore, he's handled this process trying to limit attention as much as possible.
The thing is, if he was going to leave Cleveland then I think he'd rip the bandaid off last night or this morning. The longer it takes him to make the decision, the more likely it is he returns to Cleveland. The less likely it is he makes the hometown fans sit and stew about it only to disappoint him. The more likely all the long emotional ties play a factor and the basketball part becomes less important.
I don't think it's a lock that he stays, and if he leaves, I believe he leaves for Chicago, but I think the odds drop a little bit with each day the decision is delayed.
As for Wade, it really depends whether or not he's making a basketball decision, a financial decision or a family decision. Two of those three favor Chicago, but the third is money, and money almost always wins.
Think about it, whomever he plays with in Miami, he could also play with in Chicago except that he has to compare roughly 10 million in cap room + Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers to Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Loul Deng, Taj Gibson, and James Johnson. The Bulls destroy in a "winning" perspective.
If Wade really wants to win again, can the Heat actually do it with him + one max FA? Not really to be honest.
Still money almost always wins. Thus, I still think he's going back to Miami. It's hard for me to imagine Dwyane Wade giving up the 30 million extra money from Miami given his age and injury-proneness.
However, unlike LeBron, the longer the process plays out, the more likely Wade is to leave Miami in my opinion. If Miami isn't able to secure enough of a commitment from any other free agents out there to make Wade feel they at least have some chance, then he may start seriously considering the Bulls.
For Wade, the increased marketing opportunities may actually make up a lot of that money for him, and his odds of winning another title in Chicago are far greater than Miami, another title might push him back into a mega-marketing superstar as well.
I'm not going to speculate much on the custody battle as I'm not a lawyer, and I don't want to invade his personal life much, but short story is that from a "kids" perspective that being in Chicago almost certainly helps his case to gain full custody or a greater share of split custody.
As for Bosh the latest rumors are that he's going to Houston though I'm not sure I buy into it. Toronto may make some noise about not wanting a S&T, but ultimately, it's pretty hard to see them rejecting one vs letting Bosh leave for nothing. Though, they may be able to force Bosh's hand enough to convince him not to go to Houston since Bosh has no threat to go there without Toronto's help.
Bosh is somewhat of a king pin to all of this as well, because if Bosh does go to Houston then I think it makes the basketball situation really unpalatable for Wade in MIami. Miami is coming back with Boozer, 10 million worth of role players, Beasley and Chalmers? How is that really better than what they've had?
However, if Toronto plays hard ball enough to force Bosh away from Houston, then Miami and Wade might be a logical destination. However, for Bosh, Chicago makes a ton more sense than Miami to team up with Wade. Better marketing opportunities, not nearly so entrenched as the #2 guy (as Wade will own Miami, but in Chicago it's a "big 3"), and he'll get the same money either way.
He could also opt for Chicago without Wade given that Chicago with him probably stands the same odds of winning as Miami with him, Wade, and no one. He'd also be "the man" in Chicago or at least have 50/50 billing with Rose, have a longer window to win, and have far better marketing opportunities.
The real question is, if he's attached to Wade at the hip, then even though Chicago is better for both as a basketball choice, and it's better for both from a marketing perspective, can he really convince Wade to leave Miami? How deep does the friendship go, that he joins Wade in a worse
If Wade, Bosh, and their agent are talking then both Bosh and the agent should heavily push Chicago with only Wade pushing Miami.
As for the minor players (and wow it's a crazy year when you've got 4 all-stars viewed as the minor players)
Joe Johnson is getting tired of waiting around, so he appears ready to just accept the Hawks deal. Amare to the Knicks seems like it's going to happen as well though he has meetings scheduled with the Bulls and Nets. Boozer is hanging out probably waiting to see which team is left needing a max guy and has the best roster. David Lee interviewed with the Timberwolves after the Bulls, so clearly he's in play if a better team wants him.
Bucher tweeted last night that the Bulls could get shut out:
LeBron -> Cleveland
Wade + Boozer -> Miami
Amare -> NY
Johnson -> Atlanta
Bosh -> Houston
I don't know if I really see that or not. Is Boozer really enough to get Wade excited about winning in Miami. It's very hard for me to envision Wade thinking that's enough to have a legitimate chance to win with what else they have. However, throw Boozer and Wade in Chicago, and they have a very legitimate chance to win.
So the readers digest version of my current best guesses:
LeBron: Bulls or Cavs
Wade: Bulls or Heat
Bosh: Bulls, Heat, Rockets, will he walk from 6th year? Will he let Toronto control his destination?
Boozer/Lee: Whomever is left with the most money and best roster