LeBron James will be a New Jersey Net next season. No source has told me that and I don’t have any secret information – it just makes way too much sense for that move to not happen. The situation for LeBron and the Nets is a great fit as is; one or two things falling into place would make it an absolute homerun for everyone involved (James, the Nets, the NBA).
Here’s how the (very plausible) scenario breaks down, without mentioning a Jay-Z friendship one time:
1. John Wall: The first step to LeBron’s path to the Nets happens tonight in lovely Secaucus, N.J. The Nets will show up to the NBA Draft Lottery and most likely walk away with the No. 1 overall pick, which, for this team, would almost certainly be John Wall.
Do not discount what Wall would mean to LeBron. In non-All-Star or Team USA settings, can you think of the best point guards James has played with in Cleveland? Mo Williams is far and away the best point guard employed by the Cavs since LeBron came into the League. And while Mo is nice, they’re not exactly reserving a space for him in Springfield. After Mo, it’s grim; the best runners up are Eric Snow and Jeff McInnis. Seriously. The only other PG draw in this free agent situation is Derrick Rose and Chicago, but in the grand scheme of things, the Nets scenario with Wall is much more appealing.
And if they don’t get the No. 1 pick? Evan Turner is not a bad consolation prize.
2. John Calipari (or Coach K or Tom Izzo or …): I know there are rumors flying everywhere right now about Cal/LeBron being a “package deal” for the Bulls or the Nets. That’s not out of the question. But package deal conspiracies aside, why wouldn’t the Nets initiate a package deal themselves to facilitate landing LeBron and an elite coach? Why wouldn’t the Nets right now be talking to Calipari’s people, Coach K’s people, LeBron’s people and whoever else might make this a win-win situation for both sides? We know Coach K and LeBron are tight after their Team USA runs and we know that Coach K has come close to leaving Duke for the NBA at least once, maybe twice in recent years. He’s coming off a title run at Duke where part of him must now be feeling like he’s done everything he can ever do in Durham. He’s clearly ultra competitive – why wouldn’t he want more? Why wouldn’t he be open to a new challenge? Why wouldn’t he want that challenge to include building something amazing with LeBron James in New Jersey/Brooklyn?
3. Brook Lopez: Lopez being a huge draw for LeBron is actually the part of the scenario that gets the most incredulous reaction from people, especially when I drop this: Not only would Lopez right now be the best big man LeBron has ever played with, but in 2-3 years, Lopez will also be one of the Top 3 big men in the entire NBA. A roster that features LeBron, Lopez and Wall (as well as Devin Harris, Courtney Lee and Terence Williams) is better than the Knicks (even if they sign two prime free agents), Bulls and Heat.
4. Newark and Brooklyn: Waiting two years to play in Brooklyn is clearly a drawback, and if the team had to continue playing at the Meadowlands there would probably be zero chance of LeBron even considering the Nets. But they’re not playing in IZOD Arena anymore, they’re playing in Newark at the Purdential Center for the next two years. That’s a nice arena in a semi-city, that’s actually closer to New York than the Meadowlands, and can offer all of the access to NYC the LeBron would crave until the domination from Brooklyn begins.
5. The Russian Billionaire: Did you see the “60 Minutes” story on this guy? Mikhail Prokhorov is most definitely not messing around. He has deep pockets and swagger for days. He’s no doubt the kind of guy LeBron would want to align himself with and Prokhorov wouldn’t have purchased the worst team in the NBA if he wasn’t committed to doing whatever it takes make his franchise a force. He is not going to be afraid to spend money to get LeBron the help he wants or needs to win multiple NBA titles.
Clearly, some things have to come together for this scenario to play out but I think it’s a lot more plausible than you might think. With the Lottery odds in their favor tonight, the biggest wildcard would seem to be the coaching situation. LeBron or no Lebron though, I would hope that the Nets are going to be wildly aggressive in their coaching search, instead of settling for yet another veteran coaching re-tread like most teams seem to do.
All in all, the Nets scenario just makes too much sense to me. It’s more appealing than Miami or Chicago (or anywhere else where the G.O.A.T.’s shadow looms large). The only real competition in the LeBron Race would be the bright lights of Madison Square Garden. NYC and MSG are true draws for sure, but if LeBron is willing to see the big picture, he could potentially contend for a chip with New Jersey before they even move to Brooklyn.
What do you think? Can you picture LeBron signing with the Nets?
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