Move Blake Griffin? It may be the best scenario for the Clips

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When you first hear the idea floated of a possible trade of Los Angeles Clippers’ power forward Blake Griffin, many are taken aback. Yes, he’s a perennial all-star and is a dominant force in the paint. Yes, he is a superstar by some standards. Yet, with Griffin sidelined by multiple injuries and suspension, the Clippers have gone 18-4 and turned its season around.

There are a few reasons for why the Clippers have been more successful. First and foremost, the offense is much more free-flowing without Griffin on the court. Often when Griffin gets the ball, it stays in his hands as he is in an isolation situation against his defender. This slows down the flow of the offense, as the ball stops in his hands. Without him on the floor, the Clippers have been forced to play a smaller lineup, often relying on

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Blake Griffin (above) may be on the trading block in the near future.

Fs Paul Pierce, Lance Stephenson and Luc Mbah a Moute to play the 4. Of course, those players’ don’t have the same skill set as Griffin, as they are more reliable jump shooters and better passers and perimeter defenders. Therefore, the ball does not stop in their hands, and allows the offense to keep a rhythm going.

Next, with Griffin and C DeAndre Jordan on the floor, the Clippers have two players that dominate the paint. Often times in a situation like that, these players can essentially get in each other’s way, and clog the painted area of the floor. That makes it hard for either Griffin or Jordan to have space to operate offensively. With Griffin off the floor, Jordan has been able to dominate, both offensively and defensively. Jordan has been able to dominate the glass, and with the spacing the Clippers are currently using, his job is to rebound and make the easy baskets or pass the ball out to his shooters.

This style of play is similar to the Golden State Warriors, the NBA’s reigning champion. The Warriors are a shooter-dominated team, relying on one big man (C Andrew Bogut) to dominate the paint and collect rebounds, while allowing space for the other four players on the floor to operate. This is a trend that is picking up around the NBA, and currently, the Clippers are getting a taste of what their team could be in that style of play.

With all these factors adding up, it becomes more palatable to consider trading Griffin. I believe there are a few scenarios that the Clippers could cash in on Griffin right now, while acquiring wing players and future assets that would help them continue to be a contending team in the Western Conference. Using ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine, I have put together three possible trade proposals that I think would be good fits for both teams in a trade of Blake Griffin.

1. Clippers trade F Blake Griffin & F Wesley Johnson to the Minnesota Timberwolves for F Andrew Wiggins, G Zach LaVine, G Kevin Martin and a future first round pick

This scenario is what I believe would be the best fit for Griffin and the Clippers. On the Timberwolves’ end, the team acquires a superstar in Griffin and a serviceable wing player in Johnson. Pairing Griffin with rookie C Karl Anthony-Towns would create a dominate combination in the paint, and Towns is athletic enough to be able to play out of the paint, allowing space for both players to operate. This allows Wolves’ G Ricky Rubio to continue to be a pass-first guard, which is what he is best at. With two dominate big men, the Wolves would be formidable on both offense and defense, putting them in position to

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Andrew Wiggins (above) would be on the move for the second time in his career in my trade scenario.

compete in the Western Conference. Plus, adding Griffin would be a way to attract free agents to Minnesota, which has been difficult in the past.

For the Clippers, they would acquire a future star in Wiggins, who is a perfect wing player to place next to G Chris Paul in this new system of spacing. Wiggins has the ability to shoot and drive to the basket, making him a dual threat. Under coach Doc Rivers’ guidance, Wiggins would be able to become a star. LaVine is a high-flying guard that is currently best at driving, but has the potential to become a decent shooter in the future. Martin is a good spot up shooter at this point in his career, and would work well in a rotation with Gs Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick.

Overall, I think this would be a great outcome for each team in both the short and long term.

2. Clippers trade F Blake Griffin & F Wesley Johnson to the Toronto Raptors for G DeMar DeRozan, F Patrick Patterson, C Lucas Noguiera and two second round picks

Immediately upon acquiring Griffin, the Raptors become an instant threat to the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference, as they have no big man capable of covering the new Raptor. Toronto would lose its best player in DeRozan but you have to give something up to get something. Paired with G Kyle Lowry, Griffin would be able to be the top option in Toronto and become the dominant force in the paint. Wesley Johnson would move into a bench role in rotation with G Terrence Ross to replace DeRozan.

For the Clippers, DeRozan would step into a starting role at shooting guard, providing a player that can both drive and shoot from the wing. The key to this deal may be Patterson, as he is a big man that is capable of shooting the 3, while also being athletic enough to defend near the perimeter. Patterson is exactly the type of player the Clippers would need in playing a spaced-out system as previously described. Noguiera is a former first round pick that is still very young, and has shown potential in flashes. He would serve as a serviceable big man in rotation with Jordan and backup C Cole Aldrich.

3. Clippers trade F Blake Griffin & F Wesley Johnson to the Orlando Magic for F Tobias Harris, F Aaron Gordon and two first round picks

This scenario is the biggest stretch for me. While it still makes some sense for both teams, it is the scenario that I believe has the least chance of happening.

The Magic would acquire a superstar in Griffin, and immediately have the top scoring option they have sorely missed since C Dwight Howard left. Johnson would move into a bench role behind G Victor Oladipo, who would pair with Griffin to make a fun, high-flying team to watch. In the lowly Eastern Conference, the Magic would become instant competitors, albeit sacrificing future draft picks. I imagine the deal would be structured in a way that there would be a year in between each of the first round picks, as to not stunt the Magic’s development as a team.

For the Clippers, the team would acquire two wing players that are also capable of playing the stretch-4 position, acting as big men that are able to shoot the 3 while also defending the perimeter and the painted areas. Both Harris and Gordon would be useful to the Clippers’ style of play, but the key to the deal may be the draft picks. There simply isn’t enough value in Harris and Gordon alone to make this deal, but with the incentive of draft picks that can be used to add players or entice other teams in a trade, the deal makes sense.

All in all, those are three scenarios that I could envision the Clippers being enticed by in a trade proposal for F Blake Griffin. While I don’t believe the team will make a move before this year’s trade deadline, the idea of a Griffin deal could be revisited this summer, especially if the team falls in the Western Conference playoffs again.

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NBA Finals Prediction

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After a little more than four months, the NBA is ready to begin its regular season, which kicks off tonight. The leading story lines of the opening night games are Lakers G Kobe Bryant returning to action, and the defending NBA champion, San Antonio Spurs, open their season against rising opponent, the Dallas Mavericks. It should be one of the most interesting seasons in recent memory, and there’s no better time than now for an NBA Finals Prediction!

Previously, I previewed both the Eastern and Western conferences. In those previews, I predicted that the Chicago Bulls will be the Eastern Conference champions, and the Dallas Mavericks will be the Western Conference champions. This sets up my NBA Finals match up:

NBA FINALS

Chicago Bulls vs. Dallas Mavericks

Series Prediction: Mavericks win 4-3

Dirk Nowitzki (above) and the Dallas Mavericks are looking to win another championship, as depicted in this picture from 2011.

Dirk Nowitzki (above) and the Dallas Mavericks are looking to win another championship, as depicted in this picture from 2011.

I figure a lot of people would say “WOW” when they read I’m picking the Dallas Mavericks to win the NBA Finals. Yet, all the pieces are there. Dallas has a deep team, and the additions of F Chandler Parsons and C Tyson Chandler add a scoring and defensive dimension that was lacking from this team previously. Plus, Chandler was on the Mavericks when they beat the Heat for the title in 2011. Not to mention, they STILL have superstar F Dirk Nowitzki, who is playing at a reduced salary so that the Mavericks could add players around him. This is a similar situation to Spurs F Tim Duncan, who makes much less than market value would suggest, but chooses to take a lower salary because he wants to win. The same can be said for Nowitzki. Simply, I think the stars are just aligned for Dallas. Nowitzki knows what it takes to win a championship, and knows that this will be his best shot to add another championship before he calls it a career.

These are my predictions for the upcoming NBA year, and I hope everyone can enjoy what should be a very entertaining basketball season!

 

NBA Western Conference Preview

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After previewing the NBA Eastern Conference a few days ago, it’s only fitting to complete the other half of the NBA picture, and take a look at how the Western Conference should shake out this year. Interesting story lines are prevalent throughout the conference, as the defending champion San Antonio Spurs are looking to continue their dominance, while the Oklahoma City Thunder will look to fight through MVP F Kevin Durant‘s foot injury that should sideline him 6-8 weeks.

Western Conference

TOP 8 SEEDS MAKE PLAYOFFS

1. San Antonio Spurs (58-24)

Is this really a surprise? The Spurs are a model of consistency. Their style of fundamentally sound play is easy to replicate night in and night out. Also, they essentially lost no one from their championship roster of last season, and added F Kyle Anderson in the draft. Many scouts thought Anderson could be drafted as high as the mid-teens, so this could end up being a steal for the Spurs. Definitely expect this team to pace the West.

2. Los Angeles Clippers (55-27)

This is a team that I’m the most excited to watch this season. I feel that with the addition of F Spencer Hawes and it being the third season that head coach Doc Rivers has his system put in place, the Clippers have the most room for improvement in the NBA. If the team buys in, and plays Rivers’ style of hard-nosed defense, they can easily contend for the NBA title this season. That being said, they still won’t be as consistent as San Antonio.

3. Dallas Mavericks (53-29)

This might come as a shock to most people, but the Dallas Mavericks should be one of the most improved teams in the

Dirk Nowitzki (above) and the Dallas Mavericks are ready to make a run.

Dirk Nowitzki (above) and the Dallas Mavericks are ready to make a run.

NBA this season. The team had quite the off season, bringing back C Tyson Chandler via trade, and adding Fs Chandler Parsons, Rashard Lewis, and Charlie Villanueva. These role players added around F Dirk Nowitzki and G Monta Ellis make Dallas look like the team that won the NBA title in 2011, and they should be able to surprise some people in the very competitive Western Conference.

4. Houston Rockets (52-30)

Simply put, G James Harden and C Dwight Howard have a year of experience together, and should be able to continue to progress. However, they are in one of the most competitive divisions in basketball, so their regular season record might not accurately reflect their progress. Yet, with the Thunder being weaker for about half the season, Houston should be able to claim a spot in the top half of the Western Conference playoffs.

5. Oklahoma City Thunder (51-31)

A drop to the fifth spot in the Western Conference is what losing F Kevin Durant means to the Thunder. G Russell Westbrook will have to carry the load for the first time in his career, and I don’t expect things to run as efficiently as they would with Durant around. I believe Durant’s absence will cost the Thunder some playoff positioning, but they will ultimately still be in postseason play.

6. Golden State Warriors (50-32)

Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry (above, right to left) will look to improve under new head coach, Steve Kerr.

Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry (above, right to left) will look to improve under new head coach, Steve Kerr.

The Warriors will go through an adjustment period under new head coach Steve Kerr, but it shouldn’t be anything major. If often injured F David Lee and C Andrew Bogut can stay healthy, the talent of Gs Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson alone should carry Golden State into the playoffs. This is one of the more interesting teams in the West, as they boast many youthful players that haven’t reached their full potential yet. With the ceiling unknown, the sky is truly the limit for the Warriors.

7. Portland Trail Blazers (50-32)

Even though this would look like a step back for a Blazers team that finished fifth in the West last season, the fall is just due to the competitiveness of the West. The conference is so talented, that a few games mean everything when it comes to positioning at the end of the regular season. All in all, the Blazers didn’t make a bunch of moves in the off season, and are mostly the same team as last season. Portland must hope for continued maturity from their young players if they hope to make a run in the playoffs.

8. Phoenix Suns (50-32)

After barely missing the playoffs last season, I fully expect the Phoenix Suns to use that to drive them to the final playoff spot in the West. G Eric Bledsoe is returning despite dicey contract negotiations, and the additions of Gs Isaiah Thomas and Zoran Dragic should have the Suns playing a style of small-guard ball that will be hard for any team to guard.

NON-PLAYOFF TEAMS

9. Memphis Grizzlies (48-34)

10. Denver Nuggets (47-35)

11. Sacramento Kings (44-38)

12. New Orleans Pelicans (38-44)

13. Minnesota Timberwolves (34-48)

14. Los Angeles Lakers (30-52)

15. Utah Jazz (27-55)

Many people have the Grizzlies or Nuggets in the playoffs over the Suns this season, but I’m not big on either team’s off season moves. Memphis got just another year older without adding any new scoring punch, and the Nuggets have yet to fill the hole made when G Andre Iguodala left for Golden State. The biggest improvement of these teams should be the Sacramento Kings, who added Gs Darren Collison, Nik Stauskas and Ramon Sessions to help spread the floor and run the offense more efficiently. The Kings should be a team to watch as they are on the rise. Similar sentiments can be echoed for the New Orleans Pelicans, who should continue to improve as F Anthony Davis continues to blossom into an NBA superstar. However, the bottom three in the conference (Timberwolves, Lakers, Jazz) are in the midst of rebuilding phases. It will be years before any of these teams compete again, and will be amongst the worst teams in the NBA this season.

Playoff Predictions

1st Round

1. Spurs vs. 8. Suns

Series Prediction: Spurs win 4-0

2. Clippers vs. 7. Trail Blazers

Series Prediction: Clippers win 4-2

3. Mavericks vs. 6. Warriors

Series Prediction: Mavericks win 4-3

4. Rockets vs. 5. Thunder

Series Prediction: Thunder win 4-2

2nd Round

1. Spurs vs. 5. Thunder

Series Prediction: Spurs win 4-3

2. Clippers vs. 3. Mavericks

Series Prediction: Mavericks win 4-3

Western Conference Finals

1. Spurs vs. 3. Mavericks

Series Prediction: Mavericks win 4-3

I believe it’s time for another championship run in Dallas. F Dirk Nowitzki knows his window of opportunity is closing, and this will probably be the best team he has ever played with. If Nowitzki can find that same magic he had in 2011, his stronger supporting cast should help propel the Mavericks into the NBA Finals. Overall, it should be an amazingly interesting playoffs, and there are story lines that are prevalent in both the regular and postseason.

NBA Eastern Conference Preview

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With the NBA Regular Season set to begin in a little under two weeks, now is a great time to preview the upcoming season. It should be one of the most fascinating seasons in recent memory, as many star players, such as F LeBron James, have changed teams during the off season. Here is my take on how the Eastern Conference will shake out this year:

Eastern Conference

TOP 8 SEEDS MAKE PLAYOFFS

1. Chicago Bulls (58-24)

You heard it here first! The Chicago Bulls are equipped to take the top spot in the Eastern Conference this season. Coach Tom Thibodeau always has his team prepared to play defense, but the addition of F Pau Gasol via free agency, F Doug McDermott via the draft and a healthy season from star PG Derrick Rose should have this team pacing the way in the East. Solid defense can last over a full season, and now the Bulls have some scoring punch to back it up.

2. Cleveland Cavaliers (54-28)

Even the mighty LeBron James can’t bring the Cavaliers to total regular season dominance right away in his first season

The Cleveland Cavaliers, featuring Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, Kevin Love (left to right, above), look to make some noise in the East this season.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, featuring Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, Kevin Love (left to right, above), look to make some noise in the East this season.

back with the team. It will take time to build chemistry with PG Kyrie Irving, and newly acquired F Kevin Love before Cleveland can try for any regular season wins records. That being said, they will easily be one of the best teams in the East this season, and have the potential to make an NBA title run.

3. Washington Wizards (50-32)

The Washington Wizards will break the 50 win mark this season. Additions of F Paul Pierce from free agency, and a year under his belt for 2013 first rounder, Otto Porter, Jr., have the Wizards set to really make a run in the Eastern Conference. This could be one of the more exciting teams to watch this season, as their up-tempo style, led by PG John Wall, racks up a lot of points and creates a lot of highlight reel plays. As the Wizards continue to gain experience, they will become a legitimate threat in the Eastern Conference this season.

4. Miami Heat (48-34)

LeBron’s old team didn’t just disband. To “replace” LeBron (lord knows you can’t ever replace LeBron), the Heat brought in Fs Luol Deng and Danny Granger. They also still have star players G Dwyane Wade and F Chris Bosh. While they aren’t the same team that the Big 3 was in past seasons, Miami still has what it takes to compete in a relatively weak Eastern Conference. Imagine a match up of the Cavaliers and Heat late in the playoffs. That would be great playoff drama, and has a legitimate chance of happening, as the Heat are one of the few that can truly win the East this season.

5. Indiana Pacers (47-35)

Beginning with the Pacers, this is where the fall off in the East truly begins. None of these teams, including the Pacers, have what it takes to capture the Eastern Conference title this season. F Paul George suffered a gruesome leg injury while playing for Team USA this summer, and Indiana simply doesn’t have what it takes to be truly competitive without him. While the Pacers will make the playoffs in the East, I think it’s safe to say that they are the beginning of the Eastern Conference teams that wouldn’t make the playoffs if they were to play in the Western Conference.

6. Toronto Raptors (47-35)

The Raptors are one of those teams that are kind of stuck in mediocrity. They have good players, such as Gs DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross, but simply lack the true scoring punch or defensive presence that puts teams over the top. Yet, Toronto should expect another trip to the playoffs, and another early exit.

New head coach, Derek Fisher, and team president, Phil Jackson (left to right, above) are looking to put the New York Knicks back on the map.

New head coach, Derek Fisher, and team president, Phil Jackson (left to right, above) are looking to put the New York Knicks back on the map.

7. New York Knicks (44-38)

This prediction could come as a surprise to many, but I was a fan of a lot of the Knicks’ off season moves, including acquiring Gs Jose Calderon and Shane Larkin. New York isn’t ready to contend for titles yet, but should definitely show enough improvement under their new head coach, Derek Fisher, to return to the playoffs.

8. Brooklyn Nets (42-40)

The Nets got worse this off season. They were already an aging team, and Brooklyn did nothing but get older. The Nets also lost F Paul Pierce in free agency, and are hoping that G Deron Williams bounces back from an injury-plagued season in ’13-’14. Until Brooklyn can clear some cap room, they should expect a pattern of early playoff exits.

NON-PLAYOFF TEAMS

9. Atlanta Hawks (41-41)

10. Charlotte Hornets (39-43)

11. Detroit Pistons (34-48)

12. Boston Celtics (30-52)

13. Milwaukee Bucks (22-60)

14. Orlando Magic (20-62)

15. Philadelphia 76ers (20-62)

Some people are higher on the Charlotte Hornets than I am going into this season, mostly because they added G Lance Stephenson in free agency. I could see them battling for the final spot in the playoffs late in the season, but I think a team with more experience, like the Nets, can better handle pressure situations. The Hawks and Pistons are a couple of teams that are similar to the Raptors, in that they are stuck in mediocrity. Toronto’s version is simply better than Atlanta or Detroit’s depiction. The bottom four teams (Celtics, Bucks, Magic, 76ers) are the teams that contain many recent, high-profile college basketball stars that are just getting their starts in the NBA. They will be fun to watch as the young players develop, but they will not compete in the near future.

PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS

1st Round

1. Bulls vs. 8. Nets

Series Prediction: Bulls win 4-2

2. Cavaliers vs. 7. Knicks

Series Prediction: Cavs win 4-1

3. Wizards vs. 6. Raptors

Series Prediction: Wizards win 4-1

4. Heat vs. 5. Pacers

Series Prediction: Heat win 4-2

2nd Round

1. Bulls vs. 4. Heat

Series Prediction: Bulls win 4-1

2. Cavaliers vs. 3. Wizards

Series Prediction: Cavs win 4-3

Eastern Conference Finals

1. Bulls vs. 2. Cavaliers

Series Prediction: Bulls win 4-3

I’ve gotta believe that this is G Derrick Rose’s year. It will be his best chance at an NBA Championship, as I fully expect LeBron to put together a few championships in Cleveland in the next couple seasons. I’m going to say that the inexperience of some of the Cavs’ young players, and the Bulls’ extraordinary defense will be the deciding factors, and allow the Bulls to advance to their first NBA Finals since Michael Jordan was still in Chicago.

Wiggins Wants To Play For T’Wolves?

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According to Kansas coach, Bill Self, Cavaliers’ G Andrew Wiggins says that wants to be traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves as part of the Kevin Love deal.

WHAT?

Who would honestly pass up the opportunity to play with F LeBron James, and for a team that seems destined to be the Eastern Conference representative in the NBA Finals?

Andrew Wiggins (above) welcomes a trade to the Timberwolves.

Andrew Wiggins (above) welcomes a trade to the Timberwolves.

There had to be something that Wiggins wouldn’t have liked about his situation with the Cavs. Of course, Self explains that Wiggins thinks that he needs to play for the Timberwolves in order for him to truly become a superstar and No. 1 scoring option. Wiggins said that being “a piece” for the Cavaliers would’ve given him time to develop, while in Minnesota, he feels that he will be forced to step up and be the No. 1 guy now. It worked for F Kevin Garnett, who was drafted by Minnesota to be their star, and was their main scoring option for many years.

Who knows how his career will end up, but I see Wiggins point. He was often criticized for not taking over games at Kansas, and it wasn’t until C Joel Embiid went down with injury that Wiggins was really forced to step up. If Wiggins would’ve somehow avoided being included in the Kevin Love trade, he would’ve likely been the fourth scoring option behind James, Love, and G Kyrie Irving.

Now, Wiggins and F Thaddeus Young will compete to be the No.1 option in Minnesota. They are the focal point of the team, and if the Wolves fail, the blame will surely be thrust upon Wiggins’ shoulders. But that’s what he wants, right?

LeBron Update; Yanks Add Francis

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Well, it’s official. LeBron James, King James, is making his triumphant return to Cleveland. After learning how to win a championship with the Miami Heat, James has expressed the desire to come home and bring a championship to the Cleveland Cavaliers. For one, I’m happy to see this move because it is going to bring a lot of change across the NBA, and it is just a nice, warm, fuzzy story overall.

Currently, the Timberwolves and Cavaliers are engaged in trade talks regarding F Kevin Love coming to

Kevin Love (above) appearing in a rendering of what he would look like in a Cav's uniform.

Kevin Love (above) appearing in a rendering of what he would look like in a Cav’s uniform.

pair up with James in Cleveland. I would fully expect this deal to happen sooner or later, as Love has already expressed a desire to sign a long-term deal with the Cavs now that James is in the fold. Another ripple effect of LeBron’s decision is that F Chris Bosh is expected to take the max contract that the Houston Rockets have offered him, and form another Big Three with C Dwight Howard and G James Harden. However, for Bosh’s signing to become official, the Rockets need to complete the trade of C Omer Asik to the Pelicans, and find a partner for a trade of G Jeremy Lin. And the Rockets need to complete all of this by Sunday to have any chance of matching the offer sheet that the Mavericks have signed F Chandler Parsons to.

Woo. Take a breath. Yes there’s more.

On top of all of this, Carmelo Anthony’s camp says that it is between the Bulls and Knicks for his services. However, as recently as yesterday, it was reported that Anthony was very likely to accept the Knicks maximum contract offer. This was the giant lock-jam that needed to clear up before the start of free agency. This frees up the market for Fs Luol Deng, Trevor Ariza, and Pau Gasol to sign, and allows the Lakers and Heat to decide where they will go from here after missing out on the marquee free agents.


In other news, the Yankees heard me question them, and have responded by making a trade. The Yanks added Jeff Francis from the A’s for cash considerations or a PTBNL. I don’t understand how the hell this guy has stayed in the major leagues for parts of 10 seasons when he has a career 4.95 ERA in over 1000 innings pitched. He’s posted better numbers in 8 starts at Triple-A this season, so I guess the Yankees will take what they can get at this point.

Where Should LeBron James Sign?

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We are in the midst of waiting for one of the most highly anticipated free agent signings in not only NBA history, but sports history, as superstar LeBron James mulls where he should continue his playing career. The most obvious question surrounding James, is where will he go?

To be honest, I think James has a plan. I believe he has known for some time where he would like to go,

Lebron James (above) during his Decision interview before signing with the Miami Heat in 2010.

Lebron James (above) during his Decision interview before signing with the Miami Heat in 2010.

but is in the midst of talking to other free agents, such as Carmelo Anthony, about possibly teaming up and playing together. It’s also very possible that James is attempting to see if any teams would be willing to make trades to improve their roster after acquiring his services.

While it has been reported that James’ agent, Rich Paul, has met with the Rockets, Lakers, Suns, and Mavericks, the only two realistic options at this point are returning to the Miami Heat, or returning to his “hometown” Cleveland Cavaliers. The Heat have been to four straight NBA Finals, while Cleveland has had the first overall pick in the NBA Draft in three of the last four seasons. These teams would seem to be at complete opposite ends of the spectrum, but if you delve down into the team’s current rosters and possible moves, it couldn’t be further from the truth. In my opinion, LeBron’s best option to win, both presently and long term, would be to return to the Cavaliers. Let’s take a look at both options:

MIami Heat

As currently comprised, the Heat roster includes rookie G Shabazz Napier, G Norris Cole, and newly signed Fs Danny Granger and Josh McRoberts. Obviously, the Heat have the option to bring back G Dwayne Wade, F Chris Bosh, G Mario Chalmers, F Udonis Haslem, and G Ray Allen to accompany James. Other pieces would have to be added afterward, most likely through a veteran’s minimum salary contract or trades. To be honest, the only appealing part of the future of this roster would be Napier, who has shown to be a clutch performer in college, and won bookend National Championships in his career at UConn. James has previously shown his support of Napier on Twitter, but that isn’t enough to keep him around. Of course, James is friends with many of these players, and has strong ties to Heat President, Pat Riley. Yet, James’ No. 2 option, Dwayne Wade, has shown that injuries are slowing him down and he is not nearly the same player anymore. While it is rumored that both Wade and Bosh are willing to take pay cuts to keep James in the fold, will that be really be enough to add more talent to offset Wade’s decline? I don’t believe so. I think that if LeBron decides to stay in Miami, he will force Riley’s hand, and sign a short maximum salary contract to finish a run with Wade and the Heat. Overall, the Miami Heat just don’t appear to be the best option to me.

Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers’ roster is basically the opposite of the Heat’s, and is loaded with young, controllable, and cheap talent. G Kyrie Irving, 22, is a former first overall pick that recently signed a contract extension that will keep him Cleveland for 6 more seasons. G Andrew Wiggins was just drafted with the first overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft, and F Anthony Bennett was drafted with the first pick in the 2013 draft. While Bennett struggled in his first year, there is definitely still potential there. G Dion Waiters still has the potential to be an impact player that made him a first round pick just few years back. Cleveland also still has C Anderson Varejao, who is a holdover from the last time James wore a Cavs’ uniform. Outside of that core, Cleveland has G Matthew Dellavedova and F Tristan Thompson to begin what would be an interesting bench. Bringing James into the fold would immediately take pressure off of younger players, and allow them to grow underneath his guidance, and the potential of this team is tremendous. On top of what the team’s roster boasts now, it is possible that the Cavaliers will have three first round picks in next year’s draft. Those picks would be possible assets in an interesting scenario for a trade of F Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves, if James were to sign with Cleveland. It is also rumored that Cleveland is interested in adding James’ former teammates and sharpshooters Gs Ray Allen, Mike Miller, and F James Jones. With all of these parts that are able to be moved in Cleveland, I would think it would create a much more appealing atmosphere for James, as he would definitely be able to win, be in his hometown, and have a lot of say and control in where the direction of the franchise would go.

Ultimately, the decision is in James’ hands, and I do think it will surprise everyone, no matter what the outcome is. And while he mulls his decision, the entire country, if not world, is trembling with anticipation. Where will King James go?