Arguably the most anticipated NBA offseason of all time is upon us and has far from disappointed. LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony have completely taken over ESPN and the rest of the sports news outlets, while nearly every free agent waits to make their decision in hopes of teaming up with one of these big names.
After a disappointing 4–1 lopsided finals loss for the defending champions the Miami Heat, rumors began to swirl that the “Big 3” had taken the court and gone to battle together for the final time. From there, the talk of Anthony and James joining forces consumed the media, only to be quickly dismissed when both 2,003 draft standouts established their potential destinations for the upcoming season.
James and Dwayne Wade met in Vegas on July 7 to discuss their options for the season as everyone anxiously waited the details, especially fans in Miami and Cleveland. Basketball fans turned into detectives overnight, watching LeBron’s every move, trying to decipher where the world’s most desired athlete would take his talents this time around. Two days after the Vegas meeting, pictures were leaked of moving trucks outside of James’ home, which were taking his cars from Miami to Cleveland. The panic of Heat fans was at an all-time high and Cleveland’s hopes had never seemed more substantiated.
According to ESPN, James’ agent Rich Paul met with the Suns, Lakers, Rockets and Mavericks, but the Cavaliers and the Heat remained the front-runners. Despite all the pitches James and his agent entertained, the words spoken on the morning of July 11 by the coveted four-time MVP sent Cleveland fans into a frenzy: “I’m coming home.” The Cleveland native has come to the conclusion that the Cavaliers are his best option, and will now take the court alongside a young and talented roster featuring number-one pick Andrew Wiggins and Kyrie Irving.
After the hype of James and Anthony teaming up had faded away, Anthony talked with the Lakers, Rockets and of course the Knicks. Anthony was spending the weekend choosing between the Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets and a five-year contract worth $129 million with New York. Previously he’d made the verbal commitment to stay in New York, but soon after, the speculation surrounding the veteran small forward once again began. He ruled out the Lakers and narrowed his decision to New York and Chicago. The reasoning behind the decision being prolonged was unknown, but the Knicks can offer $30 million more than any other team in talks with the six-time All-Star. Anthony recently told reporters that “his heart is in New York,” and he plans to sign with the Knicks very soon.
The Bulls could provide a skilled young team ready to make an impact on opening day, especially with recently signed All-Star Pau Gasol. Because of James and Anthony, talk about Gasol was put on the back burner, but Gasol has decided to join Derrick Rose’s Chicago Bulls.
Because of such big name free agency movement, the Blazers offseason pick-ups have been overlooked despite being significant moves that will improve their squad. Center Chris Kaman and point guard—and former Blazer—Steve Blake have recently been brought to Portland to improve the already upcoming Portland Trail Blazers. Blazers General Manager Neil Olshey brought in some key missing pieces in backups to All-Star Damian Lillard and Robin Lopez. This not only brings in good role players, but enables Terry Stotts to rest his key players a bit more.
“I’m excited with the pick-ups,” said Lillard. “I’ve spoken with both of them. Kaman and Blake are both veterans and they’re ready to go.” Lillard expressed his desire for Mo Williams to remain in Portland, but Williams was looking for a three-year deal that the Blazers front office wasn’t interested in matching.
This highly anticipated offseason has lived up to the hype and has shaken up both conferences. The anxiety of free agency is beginning to whither, and the anticipation for the regular season couldn’t be higher. Regular season play will tip off on October 28 in the home of current NBA champs the San Antonio Spurs.