Lebron and sidekick will be dominant, but will it translate to a championship?

Fellow all-stars Lebron James and Chris Bosh could be playing together next season

This past weekend the New York Times reported that a team executive from one of the clubs going after Lebron James said the free agent to be is strongly leaning towards the Chicago Bulls, along with fellow USA teammate Chris Bosh. The source said that he gathered as much from discussions with his fellow NBA executives, saying, “I think it’s a done deal.” The source also stated that the other major teams attempting to lure Lebron and Co. are the Miami Heat, New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks, and the Los Angeles Clippers. Now we all know that Lebron James can carry a team to the top of the NBA standings and adding a guy like Chris Bosh to his team would make it that much more dominant. However, the question arises of whether bringing in Lebron and another max player will translate into an NBA championship.

If the New York Times report does indeed happen to be correct, and the Bulls are able to lure Lebron and Bosh to the windy city, they will be joining probably the best supporting cast, of the teams that have the cap space to acquire 2 max free agents. Of the 5 players that the Bulls have under contract next year, 4 of those guys are all productive players. The 4 include Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, and Taj Gibson. Derrick Rose is turning into one of the elite point guards in the league and Joakim Noah has made a name for himself with his rebounding, hustle, and determination. Although Luol Deng has not lived up to the big contract he signed a couple of years ago, he did have a strong comeback season last year averaging 17.6 points and 7.3 rebounds. Taj Gibson, who plays the same position as Chris Bosh also had a solid rookie season and would be a very adequate backup.

I think that there is virtually no doubt that the Bulls, with Lebron and Bosh, would be a dominate regular season team. However, come playoff time, they are going to have some issues if they are unable to bring in the role palyers that would best complement their lineup. First off, as of right now the Bulls are missing a shooting guard/quality stand-still shooter. If you have Derrick Rose, Chris Bosh, Lebron James and Joakim Noah in your starting lineup, LBJ is the only “consistent” 3-point shooter (33%). The offensive end is seriously contracted with those 4 guys on the floor. If the Bulls cannot add a couple quality shooters it will be tough to call them legitimate contenders for the NBA Championship.

J.J. Redick is looking at a raise this offseason

For the Chicago Bulls, cash is going to be an issue for bringing in quality players, but there are a couple potential guys on the market that could fit nicely onto their roster. J.J. Reddick is a restricted free agent who proved that he can be a real solid bench player for the Orlando Magic this year, as he has expanded his game and improved his defence. Also, former USA National team player Mike Miller is an unrestricted free agent and could be what the Bulls need. Although Miller has stopped shooting the ball in recent years, he still shoots it at a high percentage, and maybe getting open looks from a star-studded Bulls cast could change that. Nate Robinson could also be an option as a guy coming off the bench. Robinson showed that he can keep his mouth shut and put the team above his own needs while he was in Boston. Let’s not forget the aging Anthony Parker who is a smart veteran that knows his role and will not be seeking a whole lot of money.

It should be noted that Luol Deng has shot the 3 ball at around 38% the past three years, but only took 1.2 three-pointers a game last season, which was the most in his career.

The thing is, it is hard enough to find good role players for your team under normal circumstances. But when you are hoping to sign top flight free agents the salary cap becomes even more of an issue. It is going to be a big problem for these teams that have shed so much salary specifically for the 2010 free agent class because they have virtually no one on their rosters. The Chicago Bulls currently seem to be the best equipped of the teams in contention for Lebron and friends.

Right now, the Knicks have Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, as well as the developing Toney Douglas and Bill Walker. They also have Eddy Curry, but he is just most likely going to sit on the bench and count his millions. New York is not looking like the most viable option for any top tier free agent.

The Miami Heat, assuming Wade comes back, have only 3 guys on their roster after waiving James Jones today. The other two would be Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers. Again, like other teams in their situation, they are looking to find a number of quality bench/role players.

People like to talk about the weakness of Lebron James’ supporting cast in Cleveland, but when you look those guys compared to these other teams, was it really that bad? The Cavs had Mo Williams who is a very good shooter from the outside and although he isn’t a playmaking point guard you have to wonder if Lebron would work well with a point guard who dominates the ball and can’t shoot from the outside at a high percentage. Anderson Varejao and Joakim Noah are very similar players. It is obvious that Antawn Jamison underachieved but he has been a 20-10 guy throughout his career. Moreover, you add on Delonte West and J.J. Hickson, and suddenly you think that maybe these teams aren’t much better off than the Cavs.

Don’t get me wrong, adding an all-star power forward will make a world of difference for Lebron James, but in the end you need the proper role players to get the job done. It also has to be said that having Bosh or Stoudemire as a sidekick is not a very solid intimidating presence in the paint for opposing big men. Bosh isn’t strong enough to be a true force inside and Stoudemire doesn’t seem to care on the boards sometimes. That’s why the situation in Chicago would be great because Joakim Noah can be that force in the inside even though he is more of a power forward.

Brook Lopez is turning into one of the best center\'s in the NBA

One team that isn’t talked about nearly as much as the Knicks, Heat, and Bulls, are the lowly New Jersey Nets. In terms of supporting cast, the Nets are arguably in the second best position among the teams involved in the Lebron sweepstakes. New Jersey currently has 8 guys under contract and soon to be 9 with Derrick Favours coming to town. As we have seen with the LA Lakers the past two years, having a big team makes a big difference. If Derrick Favours can live up to his potential, he would give the Nets a two headed monster up front along with Brook Lopez. You also have an all-star calibre point guard in Devin Harris, who is looking to rebound after a poor injury plagued season. Then add to the mix good role players in Courtney Lee and sophmore Terrence Williams. All of the sudden you’re looking at an upper echelon team if you can acquire Lebron James. However unlike Chicago or Miami, the sidekick needed here would not be Chris Bosh or Amare, rather someone like Joe Johnson would probably be the best fit if Lebron were to flock to New Jersey considering they would already have two starting big men. It was also reported today that Yi JianLian has been traded to the Wizards for Quinton Ross and cash, which leaves even more cap room for the New Jersey Nets.

It looks as though Lebron James is going to leave Cleveland and bring a sidekick with him wherever he goes. There is no denying that a team with Lebron James is immediately a playoff team, but without the right pieces it will not be a championship team.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. I’m now on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

Also check out howiGit’s blog, a guaranteed great read every time.

About Chris Ross
Questions, comments, suggestions? Send yours to cross_can15@hotmail.com. Follow me on twitter @paintstheblack

32 Responses to Lebron and sidekick will be dominant, but will it translate to a championship?

  1. Great NBA free agency blog, great insight on the NBA. LOL, it is funny that I just posted my NBA blog seven minutes before yours, stating reasons why I dont think Lebron is going to Miami.

  2. Bryan says:

    Chris, I definitely agree with you on New Jersey. It’s too bad for them that they were so bad, and that they’re not in Brooklyn for two years, because Lopez, Harris, and CD-R, not to mention Favours, would be a good nucleus to build around. And you’re right about the supporting cast: The Celtics, Lakers, and Magic, the only teams to make the Finals in the last three years, were all deep teams that could get by because they could move pieces around. (The Lakers less so, but they had guys just good enough to complement Kobe, and Gasol is huge.) Role players will flock to LeBron wherever he is if the team has cap space. At the same time, the Bulls would only need to add a couple pieces—definitely a possibility—to be considered “deep.” It’s interesting. We’ll see.

    Great blog.

  3. Andrew Macaluso says:

    Very well written, Chris.

    I’ve been trying to explain this to people all the time. Just because a team lands great players doesn’t mean it’s an automatic Championship. There has to be team chemistry, an experienced coach. What happens if Lebron get’s a serious injury? He hasn’t had one yet since he’s been in the NBA.

    Another great point about Lebron being their best 3 point shooter, which isn’t saying much at all. Derrick Rose shoots to many 3’s and he likes to take the ball to the basket just as much as Lebron does. Those two players rely on getting fouled. Perfect example is Lebron against my boy Carmelo, they went into double overtime and Carmelo took him out of his game because Lebron tried to out shoot a shooter. Doesn’t work like that.

  4. theoraclemag says:

    This was a great post. I’m a laker fan and I remember when we added Karl Malone and Gary Paton to the mix. It was a dud. Just because it looks good on paper does not mean it wiill work.

  5. Pingback: Lebron and sidekick will be dominant, but will it translate to a championship? (via Chris Ross’ Painting the Black) « Oracle News

  6. chappy81 says:

    Nice post man! I’ve found my way to your blog a few times, and truly do like your work! I’m glad you had a chance to stop by our blog.

    Anyways, my main problem with him going to Chicago is what happens when D-rose and Noah’s contracts are up? Noah only has two years left, and Rose only has three, and we know that those guys are getting a raise. I think taking on two max contracts will hurt Chicago in the end, and if they don’t win a title in those first couple years, Lebron may as well have just signed a three year deal. Would they stay in Chicago and take less money? I’ll go out on a limb and say no.

    I agree with you, as you saw in my predictions on our blog, he should go to NJ. They might run into the same kind of problems in three years as Chicago, but with a billionaire leading the way to get his dynasty I’m sure there will be money to pay the luxury tax…

  7. T. Adeyemi says:

    First, this was a great post. It wasn’t just opinions, you incorporated stats and other facts that support your argument. I appreciate that…Secondly, I agree with most of what you said, however, no love for the Clippers? I mean they currently present a very formidable grouping that could compliment LBJ. Baron Davis, Blake Griffin (if healthy), Chris Kaman, not a bad grouping. However, would their be some hesitation for LBJ going to L.A. and essentially being second fiddle to Kobe. (Let’s be Honest, L.A. people are Lakers fans and essentially loyal to Kobe, especially after 2 straight ‘ships.)

    Anyway, I disagree with “TheOracleMag”, I too am a Lakers Fan and the Karl Malone & Gary Payton pickups were good moves. No, the Lakers did not win the rings that year but they still made it too the Finals, so it was not a total fail.

  8. Matthew Wolfe says:

    Hey man, good article, but you gotta get up to date on some of the moves. Courtney Lee was traded from the Nets, and Sergio Rodriguez will be playing in Europe this offseason. The biggest reason why LeBron may/will not win with Chicago is that Rose needs the ball in his hands to dominate a game, as he doesn’t have much of a jump shot. However, this team will win a lot of 78-73 games as a starting five of Rose, James, Deng, Bosh, and Noah, with Gibson coming off the bench have the size and athleticism that Tom Thibodeau loves with his defenses. LeBron is so much better off with the Nets for the long-term. Great salary position, great young players, it’s a better supporting cast than he had with the Cavaliers and they play the same style, as Devin Harris is more of a two-guard than a one.

    Keep checking out http://www.hamsterwheelsports.com, I’m only one of seven wonderful columnists who contribute.

    • Chris Ross says:

      Thanks for the comment bud. I didn’t know about the Sergio Rodriguez thing, but I’m pretty sure that Courtney Lee has not been traded. I’ve been looking all around the web and he’s still on NJ according to yahoo and nba.com and I don’t see any headlines when I type in Courtney Lee traded.

      • Jeff McCann says:

        Hey Chris, great article. I’m another contributor over at http://www.hamsterwheelsports.com . You are correct that Lee was not traded, as it was Chris Douglas-Roberts whom was traded to the Bucks.

        You can also add to your article now that Yi Jianlian was just traded, freeing up more room for the Nets to go after LeBron and company.

  9. djepperson says:

    Well done. I agree with your points here. It seems like for all the focus we’ve collectively invested in ‘where will LeBron land,’ the reality is that in today’s NBA, he can’t do it alone. That’s not a knock on his talents, but just look at the Lakers pre-Pau and post-Pau.

    I heard the rumor this morning of James, Bosh and Wade all signing with Miami. A very interesting combination to be sure, but as you’re pointing out here, even that doesn’t lock in a title. There would still be questions to solve inside, not to mention the fact that none of the three are a deadshot sharp shooter, not to mention the fact that Miami still doesn’t have much of a bench.

    The key to any of these scenarios would be how the talent around LeBron builds up through the season, which would lay some additional dependency on getting the kind of coach that builds talent.

    LeBron is a huge, huge get for any of the teams you mention here, but I agree, even the mighty James can only ever be once piece to the puzzle.

  10. howigit says:

    Hi Chris,

    I like the idea of D-Wade, Lebron, and Bosh on Miami. Who doesn’t (except for the rest of the NBA)? However, I have a sneaking suspicion that Lebron and Chris Paul will end up playing together….

  11. Very good article and the Bulls seem in the lead right now. With solid big men in Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson he has someone to dump it off to in the low post. the only problem is that Derrick Rose has carried all his teams since high school and may not be used to taking a step back as the team second most important player. Checkout my blog @ baltimorefitz.wordpress.com

  12. Jonathan Lee says:

    I think you hit it dead on that signing Lebron and another max player wont translate into a championship, unless a team can fill out its roster with quality role players and a solid bench. The Knicks has gutted their team so much with the hopes of signing Lebron and Bosh that if they fail to sign him, I’m not sure they’ll be able to field a competitive team next season.

    I think the Bulls and Nets are making the best moves, by keeping a core (Noah/Rose, Harris/Lopez/Lee) intact to entice Lebron and Bosh to come. However, even by signing them, they’ll still have to find quality players to bring in.

    I think though that it wont be too hard to find such players. There are a ton of quality free agents on the market this year, and even though the Bulls/Nets might not have a lot of cap room at the end after signing Lebron/Bosh, I’m pretty confident that SOMEONE will forget about the money and take a pay cut, (like Gary Payton and Karl Malone did in 2004 with the Lakers), just so that they could have the opportunity to win a championship and play with one of the greatest athletes ever.

    Great blog by the way. Look forward to having future conversations.

    – Jonathan

  13. atony7 says:

    real nice post man, I agree with you all the way. A good supporting cast is key to winning a championship. I would like to see the bulls sign Lebron and then maybe a package of two lesser free agents like Rudy Gay and Mike Miller, I think that would make us a better team then just signing Bosh to go with King James.

  14. Ben Bates says:

    Chis, thanks for stopping by http://www.NotinHD.com and supporting our site. You provide some great thoughts regarding the depth of a, “team.”

    Keep it up and continue reading NotinHD.com in the coming weeks – particularly this one – as we have tons of, “Summer of LeBron” material forthcoming.

    We have also kicked off our annual “King of Commenting Competition,” so if anyone is interested in competing with the internet’s best bloggers/talk show hosts/commenters for this year’s crown, start posting comments, thrusting yourself into the competition!

  15. Jaylin Butler says:

    I think LeBron and Bosh being on the same team would be great for the fans, but not that great for the team. Don’t get me wrong, I think they’ll have a great chance to win a ring, but the simple fact is that these are two SUPERSTARS. I think the two might have trouble deciding who the ball will be going through. These are two 20+ ppg players. Things become even more difficult when you throw Derrick Rose and Dwayne Wade in the picture. But like I said before, the fans would love it, but I don’t think all the superstars would be leaving on their high horse.

  16. Hey Chris I saw your comment on my column, thanks for the support. I read your piece and I agreed with you on most points. The supporting cast has to be addressed because all the money is being dished out to the few big names, leaving little support behind them. I agree with you that despite the bashing, the Cavs group of players isn’t terrible when considering Jamison, Williams, etc. An all star number two in the post I think would lead to multiple championships for LeBron. He’s never had a tag team partner in the paint (Not Shaq in his twilight. Doesn’t count). I also agree with your point about the Nets core, I think they have a lot of talent and are one piece away from being legitimate consistently.

    But I disagree about your claim. As I wrote, I see LeBron staying in Cleveland. On another note, how do I get more awareness of my site? Trying to get more inflow.

  17. Check out my “Primetime Thoughts” at http://www.davidslondon.com

  18. Lastly, can someone tell me how to change the box to the left of this comment to my picture and not the design it currently is? I’d appreciate it.

  19. mbmorganjr says:

    Nice, well thought out post Chris. The one thing that may change some of this is if the Cavs do a sign and trade with LeBron. I think it’s clear that he’s leaving. I’ve heard the Cavs are not likely to do the sign and trade because they want to use the extra year and money as a bargaining chip. Chicago may be able to send Deng and a 1st round pick to the Cavs. Moving Deng would free up more cap space to pick up somebody like Redick who could be ideal for that group.

  20. Nick Poust says:

    Great article, Chris. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Well-written. The Bulls can sign LeBron and put him and Bosh with Rose and Noah, but they need the complimentary players to succeed. What if LeBron, Bosh, and Rose take a lot of time to co-exist? All of those players want to win now, and to do that and survive a dysfunctional start they need an adequate supporting cast. Deng’s a great player, but as you say he doesn’t shoot threes much.

    Redick would be a smart target. Definitely. Even a guy like Anthony Morrow. Whomever they sign or acquire, and whomever they let go, clearly the Bulls would be good in due time. They’d have trouble deciding who gets the ball in the final minutes, and it may be hard to tell them there is only one basketball, but like the Celtics of a couple of years ago, this trio could be tremendous in brining a championship back to Chitown.

    Again, a fantastic read. You have some talent, that’s for certain.

  21. roland737 says:

    Good analysis, Chris.

    I definitely agree with what you say about the Bulls deficiencies in a Lebron/Bosh scenario.

    However, as a Knick fan I take exception to what you say about the Knicks. I’d say they are a viable option for top tier free agents, simply because they have the most money to spend, and an owner who will be willing to spend money in the future in order to win. As long as they have double max cap space, they remain a player in this free agency period. Also, if D’Antoni and Walsh can sell the idea that Gallinari is a budding star, then that helps a lot as well.

  22. Hey the blog is nice. You write very well & express you opinion deftly. Although, you haven’t added anything about my Miami Heat’s chances to add LBJ to their roster. No worries b/c that’s where I come in.

    Let me say this Wad3 is the ONLY proven commodity in hte Eastern Conference outside of Pierce, Allen & KG. Who else in the East has won a chip? Whom else in the East is in their prime & stand poised to get another one after this summer?

    As Rudy T said in reference to the Rockets, “Never underestimate the heart of a champion.” Wade knows how to get it done when it counts, no one else can make the same claim. Talent alone doesn’t afford these players championships.

    If that were the case LBJ would have won 3-4 years ago against the Spurs. We all saw what happened-SWEEP! ‘Bron needs a player that will raise their level of play in the 2nd season.

    The only player that fits that mold can be found in M.I.A.M.I. (Money is A Major Issue). Until, it comes to winning that elusive ring. The all the major endorsements will roll in. LBJ has already inked deals to secure his financial future.

    That’s why he needs that ring… He can only get to the NBA FINALS next year if he goes to MIAMI……

    Great Blog….

    • Hey, umm, Miami guy (by the way I’m from Tampa and use to live in Miami) if Wade is such a winner and this great champion? And if he knows how to “get it done.” Why can’t he win a playoff series? He won with Shaq, and the worst team to ever win a championship. In the finals he beat the most fragile franchise for the last 7 years.
      Wade is great. He will be a hall of fame player if his career continues in the way it’s going. But I’m not buying Wade is a winner, because he’s not. Wade likes comfort. Thats’s why he won’t leave South Beach. It has nothing to do with winning for him. He likes living in Miami.
      If he was a winner, and this great champion? Why has he never complained once about his team. Everytime I see him get escorted from the playoff in his routine first round position, three days later he’s smiling. He’s making a fuss this offseason because there a good players available, and it will make him look bad if he doesn’t.

      Wade will stay in Miami no matter what. Just pray you get another franchise player, or continue watching your team lose in the first round.


  23. Good post. Very professional looking, and it’s stuffed with stats. Thanks for reading my blog, and I willl keep tabs on yours. http://thekortneyshanepillar.wordpress.com

  24. tothemax2010 says:

    Chris, I like how you have integrated the “lower” tier of free agents such as JJ. Reddick, and former 3 point ace Mike Miller. I don’t think that Nate Robinson would be a good fit with the Bulls, or as part of Lebron’s arsenal because he needs the ball in his hands to score. Also, Ray Allen is a free agent and would be a perfect fit for the pure shooter that the Bulls are missing. Fantastic article, it will be a very interesting in the NBA for the next few days.

  25. mensdept says:

    Thanks for the Comment Chris, very cool sports blog you have got going. Where is some soccer coverage? Would very much enjoy your thoughts on the ongoing WC.

  26. Southern Dyme says:

    I enjoyed this post also. I guess I’m the minority because I see James with his best friend Jay-Z in Jersey. Hey, I look at it from another perspective. I just can’t see Jay-Z investing so much of himself into a team not to have a hidden agenda, secret info or something. He’s too smart. He keeps saying if he doesn’t choose the Nets, it won’t change their friendship, which I’m sure it won’t, but for some reason I see him going with his mentor. That would be such a good look for hip-hop and take it to a whole new level. Notice how at all the games all you hear in the background is Jay-Z, Kanye West, Eminem, DJ Khaled, etc.? It’s so much money in it. Lebron playing for a NBA team in Brooklyn would be so crazy and so much revenue. It would definitely change the game. But what do I know?

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