This is LeBron James’ world, and we are all just living in it. Ditto for Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
“We are all witnesses right now to this charade,” one frustrated team executive said Monday as Day Five of LeBron-a-Palooza (term coined, I believe, by Newsday’s Alan Hahn) rolled on.
James, Wade and Bosh were “still evaluating information” Monday, according to a person with knowledge of their plans. The Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported that James was unlikely to announce any decision until his three-day Nike camp concluded Wednesday night in his hometown, Akron, Ohio. In fact, James made a surprise appearance at his camp Monday -- he wasn't scheduled to arrive until Tuesday -- and was wearing (what else?) a Yankees cap.
Wade returned Monday morning to Miami, where about 50 Heat fans – wow, what a turnout – and some team employees were waiting to greet him. At the wrong terminal. Wade was later seen at American Airlines Arena with Heat owner Mickey Arison. Such is life in the grips of the black smoke monster known as the Summer of 2010.
All NBA business essentially is tied to the Big Three free agents and what they decide to do. The only deadline pushing them is Thursday, when contracts and trades can become official once the 2010-11 salary cap is set and the moratorium on player movement is lifted. But not everybody is waiting for LeBron, Wade and Bosh. Two free-agent power forwards are getting close to making decisions on their futures – Amar’e Stoudemire and David Lee.
Stoudemire is in New York City Monday to meet with Knicks officials – either to agree on a five-year, $99.8 million contract or agree to hunker down and await for word from LeBron or Wade on whether they’re coming to New York or not. But one player who may not be willing to wait for the Knicks to handle their other business is Lee, who is getting inundated with calls from teams interested in taking him off the free-agent board regardless of what the Big Three do.
Lee, who averaged 20.2 points and 11.7 rebounds last season, already has met face-to-face with the Bulls, Nets, Heat and Timberwolves. A league source with knowledge of the market for Lee told CBSSports.com Monday that the Knicks are engaged in discussions with Utah, Toronto, Houston, Golden State and Charlotte about sign-and-trade arrangements involving Lee. This could be a key piece of the puzzle in the decision process for LeBron or Wade. Some of the Utah scenarios involve Carlos Boozer coming to New York, and some of the Toronto scenarios involve Bosh. Both players are high on the lists of power forwards both LeBron and Wade want to encourage to team up with them.
What does that mean for Stoudemire? Potentially nothing. Potentially everything. The Knicks are prepared to give LeBron or Wade a choice of big men to play with, and this feeling-out process could be the first step toward determining which of those options is viable.
Charlotte and Golden State are involved because A) both covet Lee, and B) each has a point guard who’d complement Stoudemire if he wound up being the Knicks’ only top-tier signing. The Bobcats’ Raymond Felton and Warriors’ Monta Ellis have been on the Knicks’ radar for some time.