With Boozer, LeBron's Best Bet is Bulls

With Boozer, LeBron's Best Bet is Bulls

On a busy Wednesday afternoon, three of the top free agents in the NBA announced where they would be playing next year. Even though he isn't a free agent this summer, one young star also made some noise as well.

In a subtle move that got lost in the shuffle, Kevin Durant accepted a five-year extension with Oklahoma City.Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh announced that they would partner in Miami, and Carlos Boozer agreed to a five-year, $80 million contract with the Chicago Bulls.

LeBron James has not announced his home for the 2010-11 season yet. He'll do that in an embarassing 60-minute display on ESPN Thursday night (at 8 pm CT).

So with these moves in hand, where should LeBron go if he wants to win? If multiple championships is his goal, Chicago should be his home.

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There are four teams that appear to have any chance of landing LeBron: the Knicks, Cavs, Heat and Bulls. Let's look at the competition for LeBron, and why he should choose the Bulls.

New York Knicks

They recently locked up Amar'e Stoudemire with a max contract. Stoudemire averaged 23.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game last year in Phoenix, but has had a number of injuries in his career including microfracture surgery on a knee.

Around Stoudemire, the Knicks have a weak supporting cast. Their best player last year, David Lee, is a free agent and plays the same position as Stoudemire. Right now, the best Knicks player coming back on paper is Wilson Chandler, who averaged 15.3 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.

Yes, they play in Madison Square Garden. But the team that would be in place around LeBron and Stoudemire isn't very impressive.

Miami Heat

In a fantasy world, putting LeBron with Wade and Bosh is a dream. But in reality, it doesn't work.

The Heat would have to move Michael Beasley (and his issues) to even consider affording LeBron, and then they would have thousands, not millions, of dollars with which to fill a roster around the Three Amigos. Foul trouble or an injury would sink that Titanic easily with a supporting cast of league-minimum players.

However, consider what the Heat do have in Wade and Bosh. Bosh brings 24 points and 10.8 rebounds to the floor to play next to Wade, who has a ring. Two impressive superstars, and Olympic teammates of LeBron's.

Cleveland Cavaliers

It's home for LeBron, and I respect that he has to think long and hard about leaving. If you saw ESPN's 30 for 30 series "A King's Ransom" (ironic?), which dealt with the trade that sent Wayne Gretzky to Los Angeles from Edmonton, you saw what subtracting a superhero from a culture centered on him did to a city. Consider that scenario taking place in the only town he's called home in his life. Hard to imagine he leaves.

But it's Cleveland, the Mistake by the Lake. There's a reason they haven't won a championship in anything in generations. The fact that Boozer left Cleveland at the altar and now Bosh has said no thanks to a gig in Cleveland has to be a reality check to LeBron.

Home town team or not, if he wants to win, hearts might have to break.

Chicago Bulls

Let's now consider the reality that the Bulls can bring to the table. Not only can the Bulls afford to offer LeBron a max contract (something Miami can't do), but they have more than one stud for him to play around (something the Knicks can't claim).

Boozer average 19.5 points and 11.4 and 1.08 steals per game to a Bulls team that already has a double-double machine inside in Joakim Noah (10.7 points, 11.0 rebounds and 1.56 blocks per night). Boozer was also a teammate of LeBron's in the Olympics.

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That's two legitimate post players on the Bulls. The Knicks only have one. The Heat only have one. The Cavs...

Add to the equation Derrick Rose. An emerging elite point guard that average 20.8 points and 6.0 assists per game last year. Part of the reason Boozer is a great fit in Chicago is that he played with another elite point in Utah, Deron Williams, and the Bulls could develop in a similarly successful offensive scheme.

I haven't mentioned Luol Deng, who average 17.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game last year, or Taj Gibson, who added 9.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in his rookie season. If LeBron joined the Bulls' starting five, both of these talented players could be on the Bulls bench, and would be arguably as good or better than most of the supporting starters in Cleveland, New York and Miami.

With Boozer in the fold, the Bulls are already an improved team that could challenge a Cavs team with LeBron for the division championship. They certainly have better depth than both the Knicks and Miami, and appear to be the best championship-ready scenario for LeBron.

So if LeBron values the hardware, the jewelry, and his legacy means anything to him, it might be time for him to consider playing for his favorite team as a kid: the Chicago Bulls.

 

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