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Power Rankings: Top 5 skedaddlers headed home

by | The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com

I'm pretty sure you're with me on this, but I can't wait to see LeBron James return to Cleveland on Thursday night.

After all, if David Lee gets bitten in what was otherwise a lovefest in his New York homecoming, it doesn't take J.K. Rowling's imagination to envision what might transpire in Dan Gilbert's screaming shack this week.

James' trip down memory lane easily ranks as the No. 1 reunion among last summer's star-studded batch of disloyal free agents and disappointing salary dumps. Here's how I would rank the top five on the must-see scale:

James is averaging 23.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, down 4 points and 1.3 boards from his career numbers. (Getty Images)  
James is averaging 23.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, down 4 points and 1.3 boards from his career numbers. (Getty Images)  
1. LeBron James at Cleveland, Dec. 2: Gotta say Gilbert is looking smarter by the day. Remember when he promised the Cavaliers would win a championship before James got one? Well, even if it's a decade before the Cavs get to the top, it might happen before James gets there, given the snail's pace at which the Heat have progressed over the first month of the season.

2. Chris Bosh at Toronto, Feb. 16: Fortunately for the franchise's all-time leading scorer, most Raptors fans blame Hedo Turkoglu for last season's colossal flop that no doubt factored into Bosh's decision to leave. Actually, the big guy's second visit could be even more fun than the first. Wouldn't it be fitting if, on the final night of the regular season, the Raptors beat the Heat and deny Bosh a trip to the playoffs yet again?

3. Amar’e Stoudemire at Phoenix, Jan. 7: The Suns haven't exactly fallen off the NBA map as the Cavs and Raptors have, so Stoudemire's return takes on a whole new dimension. After all, the sweetest revenge is beating your ex-hero's new team and thus "proving" he made a mistake in leaving a good thing.

4. Al Jefferson at Minnesota, Dec. 22: Carrying the weight of the franchise proved too much for Jefferson's knees, so it's hard to blame him for the Wolves' failures over the years. Kevin Love has become the rebounding machine Jefferson used to be, even if his big numbers go for naught most nights. Minneapolis orthopedists, be forewarned.

5. Corey Maggette at Golden State, Feb. 3: What, you were expecting Carlos Boozer's return to Utah? It doesn't happen until Feb. 9, by which point Boozer might actually be playing again. And if that's the case, he might already have done an Elton Brand-like, West-to-East disappearing act. Seriously, does anything Boozer do excite you?

Call me wacky, but I tuned in Nov. 12 to see Javaris Crittenton's return to Washington as a member of the Bobcats. You remember Crittenton, right? He's Gilbert Arenas' biggest nightmare in the poker arena. Alas, the Bobcats waived him. I say: Bad decision. I should know. I had nothing better to do than watch a whole lot of Shaun Livington on the 12th. He was terrible.

Monday would have been Dirk Nowitzki Night in Dallas had the free agent jumped to Houston in the off-season. He opted to stay, and that's the main reason the Mavericks have vaulted to the top of this week's CBSSports.com NBA Power Rankings.


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