With the Cleveland Cavaliers playing at the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden tonight on ESPN (8 p.m.), it gives reason to discuss the possibility of LeBron James playing for the Knicks or the New Jersey Nets after this season.
James will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. Just for argument sake, check out Sam Smith’s column on the idea that James may head to Los Angeles to join Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.
Now, the question isn’t will or will he not go. It’s more of should he go.
Truth is, I don’t know. I’ve always felt he wanted to be in a major market, but the guy has become a millionaire in Cleveland. If it’s a matter of being on a championship team, Cleveland has one, but I think about some of the big guys the Cavaliers have brought in to help him.
They brought in Ben Wallace and Joe Smith, who were past their prime and are no longer there.
They now have Shaquille O’Neal, who is past his prime.
They have Anderson Varejao, who can’t even give you a double-double on average and he’s a starting power forward.
They have second-year players J.J. Hickson and Darnell Jackson, two guys that need to play more, but because Cleveland coach Mike Brown values experience, they likely won’t.
They brought in Leon Powe, who is solid, but injury prone. He’s out right now recovering from knee surgery.
In the NBA, you need front court guys. The last guy to win a title without front court inside scoring help was Michael Jordan and he’s the greatest of all time. Even so, the Bulls still had arguably the best rebounder to ever play in Dennis Rodman.
Take a look at the teams that have won titles since the Bulls got that last one in 1998.
1999 – San Antonio (Had the twin towers of a young Tim Duncan and David Robinson)
2000, 01, 02 – Los Angeles Lakers (Yes Kobe was there, but O’Neal in his prime ran the show there)
2003 – San Antonio (Duncan and Robinson were still there)
2004- Detroit Pistons (PG Chauncey Billups was the Finals MVP, but having forwards Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace made that team complete).
2005 – San Antonio (Just look above. Those two were still there).
2006 – Miami Heat (SG Dwyane Wade was the Finals MVP, but having O’Neal on offense and Alonzo Mourning on defense was critical)
2007 – San Antonio (Started to become more guard oriented with Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, but Duncan remained the centerpiece)
2008 – Boston Celtics (The Celtics added the defensive force Kevin Garnett who can still score and the rest is history).
2009 – Los Angeles Lakers (Kobe is the man, but with Pau Gasol, he had a second option who could have big scoring night and beat other big men down the floor for easy buckets.
Now you tell me if the Cavaliers have had any big men like that in their prime since James has been there other than Carlos Boozer, who fled for Utah after both parties had issues in one way or another?
With all that being said, James is a perimeter player and he monopolizes the ball. He wants it in his hands, thus a big man isn’t going to score big numbers with him if he keeps playing like that.
So at 6-foot-9 and 270 pounds, maybe James is literally their best big man and he needs to play like one in order for the Cavaliers to win a title.
What was I talking about again?
Oh yeah, LeBron playing in the Garden tonight. I’ll be watching.