You can feel it coming can’t you? Hear it clawing and scratching under your bed. Hiding in your closet. Looming around the corner. Stalking in the shadows.
It’s not going to happen. That’s the fear.
ESPN.com has published an article called: Q&A: Where will top free agents land? In this article, various experts — J.A. Adande, Kevin Arnovitz, Chad Ford, John Hollinger, Chris Sheridan and Marc Stein — rated the percentage chance various teams have of landing one of the Three Great White Whales of NBA Free Agency.
According to the experts, things aren’t looking very good for the Bulls. Unless you were hoping for an all-out swing followed by a near apocalyptic whiff.
The very general (and admittedly fluid) consensus is that LeBron James will remain in Cleveland while Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will sign with the Miami Heat. Anything could still happen, but as ESPNChicago.com’s Jon Greenberg put it: “These aren’t guaranteed scenarios culled from sources, just educated guesses contingent on real-world scenarios.”
Sentiment and a team of pro-Cleveland advisors are tugging on LeBron’s heart strings. Miami has plenty of money, awesome weather, and — most importantly — Wade’s loyalty. Bosh and Wade have the same agent.
Does Chicago offer these men a better chance at winning? Probably. But no matter what players like to say during dramatic playoff runs, winning really isn’t everything.
And LeBron, for instance, has a lot on his mind.
According to Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer: “He really likes Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. But there’s lack of shooters on roster. Also it doesn’t sound like he’s exactly being welcomed by Rose. Didn’t say Rose was anti-LeBron. But the word is preference was Joe Johnson. They have same agent. That is what multiple people tell me.”
Windhorst further reports a rift in LeBron’s team of advisors, with William Wesley (who was pushing Chicago) now standing on the outside looking in at James’ friends and agent Maverick Carter (who want him to stay in Cleveland). That rift bodes very poorly for the Bulls’ chances of landing The Greatest White Whale of them all.
At any rate, at least the wait should be over soon: “LeBron James is planning to announce the team with which he will sign during a one-hour special on ESPN Thursday night, ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard has learned through independent sources. ESPN would only confirm that active discussions for the special are ongoing. But sources tell Broussard that representatives for James contacted the network, proposing that James makes his announcement during a 9 p.m. ET special.”
So, by 8 p.m. Chicago time tomorrow night, we’ll know for sure whether Michael Jordan’s legacy in Chicago will be forever secure. Okay, it probably was already, but a team with LeBron, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and possibly Chris Bosh could have introduced a little doubt into the situation.
Instead, the Bulls are looking at a “Now what?” scenario.
With Joe Johnson staying in Atlanta and Amar’e Stoudemire heading to New York, that leaves the Bulls with a few “okay” options and a lot of holes. If LeBron, Wade and Bosh reject the Windy City, management will probably pursue the undersized Carlos Boozer and the defenseless David Lee. Maybe target shooters like Kyle Korver and Mike Miller. Guys like J.J. Redick, Ronnie Brewer and Shannon Brown are available as well…
…it’s like a punch to the gut isn’t it?
If this doesn’t work out, if the Bulls can’t sign at least one of the Great White Whales, there won’t be any championship hope in the near future. Maybe not even the distant future. Gar Forman is going to have to fill out a half-empty roster with warm bodies. Rose and Noah are going to have to be extended or re-signed in the next year or so, which means the team isn’t going to have vast millions to throw around at superduperstar free agents.
Look, I am a huge fan of Rose and Noah. Watching them help carry an overachieving team to the playoffs the last two seasons has been a blast. But who wants the team to keep sneaking into the postseason only to suffer a first round elimination year after year? The Bulls have been doing that for most of the last decade.
They could be doing it for most of the next decade too. It’s a depressing thought.