For a few days I've been promising a column regarding the future of LeBron James and the impending free agency period. The reason some have what we'll call "interest" in this column is my ideas, which are rather unconventional. See, I don't see James in a New York Knicks uniform next year, but I don't see him in a Chicago Bulls uniform either.

I also see no merit in the current inundation of media coverage surrounding this issue. SportsCenter updates on the 10-minute mark are providing us with no real information, just the speculation of so-called "experts," who claim to hold insider information regarding the fate of the most beloved Cleveland athlete since Omar Vizquel.

Only LeBron knows where he will play next year. In fact, the only thing I am willing to say for certain is that the James gang will milk free agency to the very end. James loves the attention that comes with being the most coveted player in sports history and I expect him to visit at least ten NBA cities, giving all interested parties the chance to pitch their plan to him and every thirsty fan base a chance to dream.

While LeBron makes his tour around the league, Cavalier die-hards will wait on the edge of their seats, hoping the man who is supposed to put an end to a miserable half-century of sports history doesn't abandon them mid-quest. If LeBron does leave, his legacy in Cleveland will not be the one we all thought it would.

Instead of being remembered as the savior, he will be remembered as the man who promised to make the city party like Las Vegas. And he will be remembered as the man who failed. His legacy in Cleveland will not be as the greatest athlete, greatest clutch performer or even greatest Cavalier (Mark Price, Z). Instead it will be as the hometown kid who promised salvation--and never delivered.

Without further ado, the list.

Where LeBron will not play next season:

New York Knicks
  • Realize this: LeBron, even with Chris Bosh or Dwayne Wade, will be several years short of winning a championship in New York. They have no bench, and can't build one in one offseason. See the Boston Celtics, LA Lakers, Orlando Magic, Cavaliers: all four teams took years to build a real, deep bench. He does not want to wait until his 10th NBA season for a legitimate chance to win his first title and that is exactly how long it will take (3 years) before the Knicks are a realistic contender.
  • LeBron doesn't need the New York Knicks---the New York Knicks need LeBron James
New Jersey Nets
  • See New York Knicks. Even with the possible addition of John Wall through the draft, the team is young, has no permanent home and no bench.
Miami Heat
  • LeBron and Dwayne Wade will not play together next season. Here's why: Both players play best when the offense goes through them. They are used to starting with the ball in their hands and letting the other players capitalize on the attention paid to them by the defense. Wade is a point guard--there is no way you are taking the ball from him. Some will say LBJ gives up the ball to play with Wade, I disagree. His effectiveness on offense is not getting set-up by another player, but setting up the other players himself.
  • Miami has a better bench but they aren't good enough.
Where LeBron might play next season:

Chicago Bulls
  • Chicago presents a complicated situation. One one hand, LeBron has a unique opportunity to play with a potential hall-of-famer in Derrick Rose and one of the games' best young big man in Joakim Noah. The Bulls also have a deep bench and good resources, coupled with big market allure. On the other, Rose is another player who needs the ball to run the offense and you have to wonder how that works with James.
  • The bigger problem, and the ultimate reason why James does not go to the Bulls in July is the shadow of Michael Jordan. James can win 5 titles in Chicago and still be considered inferior. He will never be the greatest player in Bulls history; if he joined any of 25 other teams and won one championship he would be the greatest they had ever seen, and be remembered that way for years.
5 teams James seriously considers:

Cleveland Cavaliers
  • This one is simple. Despite the disappointment this season and the big questions around the franchise, there is no better situation for LeBron James. His family, friends and loyalty lies in Cleveland. In addition, returning to the Cavaliers provides him the opportunity to makeup for this years' failures.
Dallas Mavericks
  • James signs and Dirk Nowitzki re-ups and Dallas is an instant contender with a deep bench. Dirk is a second superstar level player who will have no trouble taking big shots in big games, but doesn't need the ball in his hands on every possession to succeed. For James and Nowitzki, each gives the other a teammate who won't disappear come playoff time--as both are so used to seeing in their supporting cast.
  • Dallas would have to clear cap space to make this happen. Possible sign and trade.
Portland Trailblazers
  • I love Portland because they are young, energetic and very talented. Brandon Roy is a second big-shot player, but can play off the ball when necessary. LaMarcus Aldridge provides the solid, youthful inside presence to compliment the James. Greg Oden, if healthy, is a bonus. Yes, Portland is a small market and out west (a disadvantage since the eastern TV market is dominant), but if winning is most important they will not be overlooked.
  • Portland would also have to clear cap space to make this happen.
Los Angeles Clippers
  • The Los Angeles market is big enough for LeBron and Kobe Bryant--especially as Kobe enters the second half of his career. The Clippers provide young talent in Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon, as well as the veteran presence of Baron Davis. LeBron would have the opportunity to succeed with the same kind of young big-man, young guard packages that he has in Chicago and Portland. The only question becomes the willingness to work with Donald Sterling, who is something along the lines of the Al Davis of the NBA.
Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Kevin Durant would have to play the 2. The Thunder would have to clear some cap space. Yes, this is slightly complicated. However, that would leave a lineup looking something like this:
PG -- Russel Westbrook
SG -- Kevin Durant
SF -- LeBron James
PF -- Jeff Green
C -- Nick Collison
  • Now, I am certainly a Cavaliers fan and I would love to see LeBron James re-sign with Cleveland. However, this lineup absolutely captivates me. With that combination of young talent, the Thunder could win the next 3 NBA championships. No joke.
For those reasons, the best situation for James is Oklahoma City.


Scribbles in my Cavaliers Notebook

Oh, boy. What we've got here is a Shaquille O'Neal sized problem.

The Cavaliers just lost game five against Boston--their second loss at home in three games. They've looked lethargic, unfocused and complacent. For all but game three, LeBron James has looked human--far from the gigantic expectations we have for him. The rest of the team has hardly bothered to show up at all.

Mike Brown has a team that unquestionably goes 12 deep, but cannot seem to find five players capable of stopping Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett, while making consistent baskets at the other end of the floor.

Where has Mo Williams gone? Never the best clutch performer, but Mo is "getting lit up like a Christmas tree," according to John Hollinger of ESPN. Frankly, that might be an understatement. Mo hasn't even bothered to slow Rondo or Allen (whomever he is guarding at the moment) down, and the result is a thrashing.

O'Neal and Antwan Jamison are leaving huge holes inside, so once Rondo breaks that first layer, he's home free. There is nothing stopping him.

And then there's LeBron. What is the matter with him? He has only really played like himself in 2 games (1, sort of, and 3). In the other three, he's looked like an average NBA player, with limited effectiveness. He won't drive, won't pull up and did a terrible job distributing to teammates. If I didn't know better, I would speculate that he just didn't want to win...which obviously doesn't bode well for the Cavs.

I do, however, know better...and in this case, I am inclined to believe LeBron's elbow injury is far worse than anyone is letting on. Maybe the problem is whether LeBron is letting on--I wonder if the coaches, trainers and other players are even aware of a larger problem. The fact is, James has played better with 2 or more days rest than he has with 1, leading me to believe his elbow is seriously hurt.

One more note...if the Cavaliers lose to Boston, Mike Brown has to be done in Cleveland. I've never thought of him as the greatest coach. He isn't terrible, but he isn't exactly a difference maker, especially in the playoffs. Ultimately, that might be what the Cavs lack down the stretch. His substitutions have been terribly unsuccessful.


Bruce Drennan's Tribe Analysis...

Watch This.

That was Bruce Drennan absolutely destroying the Indians lineup. And I loved it.

Frankly, the man was dead on...

If your name is not Austin Kearns or Shin-Soo Choo, you stink.

Travis Hafner, .233
Grady Sizemore, .223
Jhonny Peralta, .208
Matt LaPorta, .203
Luis Valbuena, .167

Those are all everyday players and those are their real batting averages.

This is ridiculous. These are major league ballplayers. They are all making hundreds of thousands of dollars to play baseball everyday. This is absolutely unacceptable.

We can't win with that. In fact, it's a miracle that we're winning at all. The only saving grace for this team is our pitching staff. The starting staff is fantastic (considering) and the bullpen has been bad, but not miserable.

I've got some other stats for you:

Wes Hodges, .336
Jason Donald, .305
Carlos Santana, .314
Chris Gimenez, .338

All ballplayers at AAA Columbus, the minor league affiliate for the Cleveland Indians. Bring 'em up--that's what I say. Jhonny Peralta, Luis Valbuena, Matt LaPorta have done nothing to merit staying with the club right now. Peralta, for one, should just be cut. His defense is terrible and we can no longer justify his offense as a reason to keep him around.

The Indians might not get .300+ averages out of all these minor-league players if they bring them up today, but it certainly cannot hurt this team. At this point, starting me at third base couldn't hurt--not any worse than Peralta that is.