Now that the U.S. has made its sadly predictable World Cup exit, we can finally turn our attention back to the LeBron James free agency saga. Whew, what a relief.
As we've been reporting over the last several days, information from multiple sources suggests that the Chicago Bulls have become the leading destination for King James. Confidants of LeBron, agents, and sports journalists have all been singing the Bulls praises -- a talented young core of players, a new and widely respected coach in Tom Thibodeau, and enough salary cap space to bring in two high profile free agents (albeit not at the maximum salary for both).
And now those voices been joined by an anonymous NBA executive, who believes that LeBron to Chicago is virtually a certainty at this point, even though the free agency period has yet to officially start. Johnathon Abrams of the New York Times, writing on the New York Knicks declining chances to land the coveted free agent says,
But the meetings might not be much more than a formality. The executive, who did not want to be identified discussing a player who is not yet a free agent, said he had gathered from discussions with his fellow N.B.A. executives that James was strongly leaning toward joining the Bulls in tandem with another free agent, Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors.
"I think it's a done deal," the executive said.
He said he thought James was going ahead with the meetings in Ohio "to be respectful to all these teams who jumped through these hoops," a reference to the clubs, like the Knicks, who traded reasonably talented players like Jamal Crawford the last two seasons in an effort to open up as much salary-cap space as possible. But if James and Bosh are indeed going to Chicago, moves like the ones the Knicks made will have been done at least partly in vain.
It's true, of course, that the Bulls have never had the most luck in free agency.... but it was also true that until a few short weeks ago, the Blackhawks hadn't had the most luck in their pursuit of the Stanley Cup. Perhaps, as with the Hawks, this is the year that the Bulls' fortunes will finally change.