I'll be honest with everyone right now...there is no way I can keep up with all the LeBron rumors every single day. Anytime I see a significant update or rumor, I'll have it here, but just because Derek Jeter says he's not going to recruit LeBron to New York doesn't mean I really care.
But I'll get to the point: I think LeBron James is going to stay in Cleveland.
That's right, I said it.
Here are a few reasons why:
1) Dan Gilbert
The Cavs owner is well-known for bending over backwards to get the players he thinks he needs to win at whatever cost. While he says LeBron is not consulted on his decisions, that is a bit hard to believe. Sure Mr. Gilbert has the final word, but you can't tell me LeBron wasn't asked about acquiring Shaq, Antwan Jamison, etc.
More importantly, Gilbert will open his checkbook, which he did in the 2009-10 season to the tune of one of the top five payrolls in the NBA. Combine that with the fact Cleveland can pay LeBron more than any other team in free agency, and it all adds up in my mind.
Of the teams that have a strong chance at landing LeBron, only the Chicago Bulls have a comparable roster to what the Cavs have in place. The allure of playing alongside youngsters Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose has to be appealing considering those two led the Bulls to the playoffs this season. But, does LeBron really want to go to a team where the two highest players are washed up veterans Brad Miller and Luol Deng? Chicago's spending of money has to be a concern.
With Cleveland, LeBron will play alongside Jamison, Mo Williams, Anthony Parker and a rising star in J.J. Hickson. While there are trade rumors involving Williams and Parker isn't a superstar, they still give the Cavs perimeter presence that keeps other teams' defenses honest while allowing LeBron more opportunities to handle the ball. Shaq also may be back to play center, and if he stays healthy, he will make the Cavs better even at age 39.
The Knicks, Clippers and Nets have some young talent, but LeBron would more than likely have to wait to win at any of those stops, even if one of those teams forms a tandem with LeBron and another top free agent. With the Cavs, he can win. And he can win now.
In all honesty, can LeBron really earn better endorsement deals just because he plays in New York, Los Angeles or Chicago? I think not. LBJ is the most marketable athlete in the world now that Tiger Woods has gone by the wayside. He has secured an endorsement deal with Nike that won't increase in value if he moves to a big market. And that's probably the same for most all his deals. If money is really what LeBron is after, he may dart, but he can make a fine fortune here in Cleveland.
LeBron has said before that he is loyal to his hometown of Akron, and if he stays true to his word, Cleveland has to be his destination.
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