At 12:01 a.m this morning, the biggest free-agent season in sports history began, guaranteeing that the NBA landscape will be torn apart and rearranged. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Amare Stoudemire, Chris Bosh and a collection of other stars, no longer under contract, can be wooed by teams like the New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, and other franchises with the salary cap flexibility to spend millions.
The ringleader of this bunch is James, the self-proclaimed “king.” Even before the clock struck 12, reports indicated that teams were preparing to move in as early as 12:01, filing into his hometown of Akron, pitching James on their grand plans to deliver him his first championship. The New Jersey Nets, Bulls, Knicks, Heat, Los Angeles Clippers and Cleveland Cavaliers, his team for the last seven years, are scheduled to meet with James. (See a video of LeBron in action.)
So get ready for All-Pro levels of misdirection and misinformation. The sports media is already covering this story as if it were a presidential election, and every NBA “insider” worth his salt will anonymously feed reporters the latest rumors, which will be tweeted in an endless stream of speculation.
Already, we’ve heard that LeBron to Chicago is a “done deal,” though that would be pretty difficult to pull off since radio host Stephen A. Smith tweeted that “LeBron James is heading to S. Beach — with Chris Bosh — to team with Dwayne Wade and Pat Riley.” The Knicks are really focusing on Hawks free agent Joe Johnson, since they think he’s a better player than LeBron; but wait, one Knicks exec says “we still think we’re in” the LeBron sweepstakes.
Exclusive: by this time next week, you’ll be sick of all the talk, and begging these guys to just pick a team, any team, and play ball.