Saturday, July 24, 2010

Thoughts on "The Decision"

(Note: This was originally posted somewhere else on July 14)

I haven't commented anywhere on LeBron James' decision about where to play next year (except to register my correct guess on Facebook the day before). A lot has been written, pro and con, since then. A lot of it has been hilariously ill-informed (sports columnists are often worse than political pundits). For example, there's this gem from Sports Illustrated's Michael Rosenberg. Suddenly it's an incredible betrayal to want to play with your friends and win championships, and Michael Jordan's career decisions bind every other free agent until the end of time. In case  you can't tell, I have no problem with James' decision to sign with Miami. I do have a problem with the primetime special used for something that should have been a press release or, in this day and age, a tweet on Twitter. It's possible that "The Decision" was ESPN's idea, and that James only went along with it for the charity money, but there's no definitive evidence that this was the case.

The thing that actually prompted me to write about this whole situation is the news I just saw on the ESPN screen crawl. Apparently, Zydrunas Ilgauskas is signing with Miami now. Z has been with the Cavs forever and is the only current Cavs player who predates the LeBron James era. Because of his longevity, and his pre-LeBron years as the best player on a string of mediocre Cavs teams, he's beloved by Cavs fans. This signing is probably not going to improve Dan Gilbert's mood.

So now the question is, how much is Miami going to raid the Cavs' roster? After all, Miami's still got about 4 roster spots to fill just to get to the minimum of 10, and the Cavs have a lot of relatively cheap talent. Is Anderson Varejao next? Well, okay, that's not likely because Miami's front court is pretty crowded at the moment. But what about one of the young three-point shooters, like Jamario Moon? I can see this getting ugly pretty quickly. Last year, I figured that the Cavs had about a 4th-5th seed playoff team without James, just because of the number of talented players they signed before and during the season. But this off-season, the East looks to be getting stronger, and if the Cavs lose too many players off their roster, their place in the pecking order could suffer even farther. To the extent that LeBron James talks Cavs players into coming down to Miami with him, the hatred in Cleveland could only get worse.

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