You won't read much talk from me on this site about the impending summer of 2010 when everyone with a microphone, a pen or a keyboard are telling you that LeBron James will opt out of his contract and leave the Cavaliers for New York or LA or......Detroit? Could the Pistons be a player in the much-predicted LeBron sweepstakes?
The move to trade Chauncey Billups, and the 3 years/$36 million left on his deal, might have been the first step in clearing cap space to be utilized in 2010. Sure, Detroit picked up Allen Iverson and his $20 million but his deal is over at the end of thise season, and unless something incredible happens it is unlikey Joe Dumars will extend that deal. Rasheed Wallace is also nearing the end of his deal, meaning that Detroit is in fine position cap wise as early as this summer.
A LeBron to Detroit scenario isn't all that far-fetched, and is the one scenario that worries me most as a Cavs fan. LeBron going to a lousy team, that just dumped half its roster to be able to afford him, is highly unlikely no matter what Stephen A. Smith says. LeBron knows the key to his legacy as an All-Time Great is through winning Championships, not playing in a huge market. LeBron has prven to be marketable, no matter where he plays, and the Olympic exposure has only added to that marketability. In short, LeBron James doesn't need the large market to be marketable. New York/Chicago/LA need LeBron more than he needs any of them.
That's what makes Detroit so scary. Joe Dumars is essentially starting a rebuild on the fly. He is dumping money while keeping a young core intact. Right after finishing the deal to get Iverson, Dumars extended Richard Hamilton another 3 years. At only 30 years old, Hamilton is still in his prime. Tayshaun Prince is only 28. Add in youth a guard with Arron Afflalo and Rodney Stuckey, and up front with Jason Maxiell the Pistons have plenty of young talent to surround a guy like LeBron, meaning he could win right away.
Of course, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade could also be available in 2010 as well so LeBron isn't the only fish in the sea, just the biggest.
I have contended, and will always contend, that LeBron isn't going anywhere. I don't say that as a blindly optimistic fan, just as someone who thinks he gets what James is about. If something were to happen, and James did decide to leave, it would only be for the type of opportunity a team like the Detroit he could just take the bait.