American cities may not suffer from the complete dedication we see in other countries during international soccer matches, but we came close in our hyper following and scrutiny of LeBron James’ activities last week. Everyone from the knee-jerky and dangerous Reddit detectives to mischievous web developers were launching their theories on where the world’s best basketball player was going go.
If you’re reading this, you probably know already. Also, after the initial excitement of finding out, you probably don’t really care because chances are you aren’t a fan of Miami nor Cleveland. To the average fan, LeBron is simply the first and biggest domino of this summer’s free agent period, and now that he has fallen into place everyone else can get down to business.
So with the Chosen One settled back in Cleveland with a good supporting cast (that may or may not include Andrew Wiggins), where does everyone else go?
The top tier got fixed up with teams fairly quickly. Carmelo Anthony, who was being courted heavily by the Chicago Bulls, decided to return to the Knicks for a near-max deal rumored to be a little over $120 million. The giant white-haired yogi, Phil Jackson holds the reins in New York now, so while the Knicks are still going to frustrate and confuse its fans, there is hope that the ship, taking a wide several year turn, will eventually right itself (hopefully before Melo is ground down to nothing).
Without Melo, Chicago went right for the next biggest name on the list, signing Pau Gasol—adding to what was already one of the best passing front courts in the league. Gasol, at 34, is obviously past his best years, but has a Duncanian efficiency that will get you 15 and 10 most games. Chicago also just picked up another two years of Kirk Hinrich and finally brought over European star, Nikola Mirotic. The Bulls will most likely amnesty Carlos Boozer, but to any fan that watched them late last season this shouldn’t be much of a surprise.
Chris Bosh will be returning to the Heat (along with Birdman and Mario Chalmers). Bosh gave a supportive statement for his former teammate after he left for Cleveland, but of course it’s probably hard to stay bitter when LeBron’s departure nets you a contract for over $100 million. The Heat also picked up former Bull/Cavalier Luol Deng, Josh “McBob” McRoberts, a Hoosier-state treasure, and former Pacer/Clipper Danny Granger (who, previously, has made no secrets about his opinion of the Heat). Wade, along with Udonis Haslem, the longest tenured member of the team has just posted an Instagram insuring his return to South Beach, though no word on if his knees will be back or not.
Kevin Love, for those without access to Twitter or basic new services, does not want to be in Minnesota. Something about being a top-5 talent and never being in the playoffs can sour a man, I guess. The Cavs are interested and have a bargaining chip in Andrew Wiggins, but they are denying that he’s on the table, so we’ll see. The Cavs are also talking about adding living skeletons Mike Miller and Ray Allen if they can get the scratch together. Though, the former is rumored to be heavily leaning towards a move to Denver.
Chandler Parsons, he of bad hair and worse defense, signed with Dallas after the Rockets declined to match. Which is good news because that takes Dallas out of the running for Lance Stephenson (more on this shortly). The Rockets, wasting no time after losing Parsons and unable to lure Bosh from Miami, went and got Trevor Ariza from Washington, with the Wizards getting about $8 million in trade exception. Washington also picked up Paul Pierce last week. If aging, doughy sharpshooters with awesome trash-talking voices is your thing, then get excited Wizards faithful.
Good lord, take a water break. Here’s some mudskippers yelling:
Okay. Thabo Sefolosha and Kent Bazemore are bound for Atlanta, but it may not be finalized yet? Who knows? We all hope so though, right, because with each signing that takes another team out of consideration for the greatest player in the league—Born Ready.
Omer Asik got out of that living nightmare in Houston and is now suiting up for the Pelicans, which—fuck it—that team could be really fun. Gordon Hayward was getting big bites from the likes of Charlotte but Utah matched and now the gangly cherub is stuck in Salt Lake City.
There are stragglers, there are the undecideds, the Greg Monroes, the Eric Bledsoes, but really after all this you and I both know there are only two people we care about.
First: The Red Mamba, the Red Rocket, the Bearded Assassin, Matt “Don’t Call Me Boner” Bonner. At age 34, his physical abilities aren’t where they used to be, but like all great role players, he’s developed an arsenal of old man tricks to keep him lethal on and off the court. Via text with Spurs reporter, Mike Monroe, the New Hampshire native put the world at ease with three simple words: “I’m coming back.”
Second here but first in our hearts: The 8th Grader, Born Ready, Lance Stephenson. There’s not too much to say that we all don’t already know. The dude is turning into a real basketball player. He may never be the keystone, but there are few in this league that can mirror his numbers. Of course, those are numbers that he’s sometimes been known to chase; stealing rebounds from his teammates, mid-game convos with stat keepers, etc.
And then there was his routine with LeBron in the playoffs. You can argue whether or not Stephenson would be good for your team, but it’s certain he is good for the league as a whole. The Pacers were skating by paying this dude chicken feed for several years, and now, rightfully so, the kid wants to get P-A-I-D. Indiana has offered a solid offer, though perhaps slightly under market value. The hope is what they can’t reach with money, they can get with emotion. The cord between him and Larry Bird is strong and well documented, and it is really easy to sit on your couch eating bugles off your fingertips and yell that Lance should be mature and stay with Indiana because they treated him well and gave him a golden opportunity and is there really a difference between $40 million and $50 million? But the dude, like all professional athletes, has a really small window of prime money making years, and as much pain as it would cause us to see him suit up in something other than the blue and gold, who are we to keep a man from getting his money?
Charlotte is or is not interested. Publicly they’re denying they want him, but they are making moves which seems to be freeing up a little bit of money. Who knows? After Dallas picked up Parsons, things quieted down in Camp Stephenson, so for now we all hold our breath and pray Coney Island’s favorite son stays in Indiana. Lance-Watch 2k14 to be continued…
To quote my favorite sportswriter, “Technically theres no off season I understand that.” Keep your radar up, your League Pass on, and hope your team doesn’t do anything stupid.