by Adam Harris
Last night’s 120-88 annihilation of the Cavaliers in game 5 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals again gives Bulls’ fans hope that LeBron James will come to Chicago.
While this is very exciting to think about for Bulls’ fans, one musn’t jump the gun and assume that because of one game (last night) LeBron will leave. Take a step back and realize everything that needs to happen for LeBron to play for Chicago.
First off, the Cavaliers cannot win a championship this year. I believe that if the Cavs win the championship this year LeBron will stay in Cleveland because he wants to build a legacy/dynasty with one team for years to come, just like Jordan and Bryant did with their teams. Besides, LeBron runs that team in Cleveland, so the only reason he would leave is if there is no title; a loss this year could cause some impatience.
Now, the Cavs are currently down 3-2 to a veteran Celtic team, and if they manage to somehow win this series they would have to get by the Orlando Magic who have not lost a playoff game this year, so I think this step is secure.
The second thing that needs to happen, and I think the most crucial is the Bulls’ front office needs to pursue LeBron correctly. They need to go after him with a better strategy than any other team interested. This is an obvious statement, but very difficult indeed, especially for this Bulls front office. Take into account the seven year Paxson/Forman tenure as general manager of this franchise. The killer instinct has never been there when dealing with trades or the free agent market.
The biggest off-season move Paxson and the Bulls have made since ’03 is the signing of Ben Wallace in ’06 which did not solve their problem back then of having a go-to scorer late. Also, how many times were the Bulls in talk of getting Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and more realistically Kevin Garnett but fell short because the attachment Paxson had to Luol Deng and other players he drafted. This front office needs to bear down and pursue LeBron with a smart approach and a killer instinct in order to sign him this off-season.
The Bulls need to promise LeBron the signing of another free agent which, depending on salary cap could be a Rudy Gay or even a Carlos Boozer. Also, the front office needs to pitch LeBron the Bulls’ strengths. LeBron only cares about winning a championship and money. Show him the young supporting cast and the cash and he will be interested.
LeBron is a very level headed individual who will eventually make the best decision for himself, his basketball career and the LeBron James name. He will not make a decision based on the fans, the city itself, or even the management; he will enter the off-season asking, what can you do for me and my career, and can we win a championship immediately? If the Bulls play their cards right, and LeBron does not win a championship this year, the supporting young nucleus and the amount of money offered gives the Bulls an edge on any other team in the league.
But again, King James is not a quitter, and I truly believe he is not thinking about the off-season yet. He wants to win this year and will do everything in his power to do so, starting with game 6 in Boston on Thursday night.