Sunday, December 21, 2008

More than words?

LeBron James would make a great politician. He simply has a knack for telling people what they want to hear. LeBron satiated the drooling New York media during the Cavs’ recent trip to Madison Square Garden by talking up the historical nature of the 2010 free agency period. He’s also made vague public comments about staying in Cleveland: During the pro-Obama rally held before the election, LeBron popped the screaming crowd by declaring, “I’m not going anywhere!”

If you want to be nice about it, you can say James is a true diplomat. If you don’t want to be so kind, you can say James is a shyster, one whose every word is cleverly calculated to maximize his value on and off the court come July 1, 2010. The man is his own brand after all, and he’s stated more than once his goal of becoming a multi-media mogul and billionaire.

All that said, I don’t know what to make of LeBron’s comments this weekend to
Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He told the Cavs’ beat writer that he will “consider” signing an extension with the team this summer, a full year before he can become an unrestricted free agent.

"You play out this season of course; I will consider it," James said Saturday. "The direction we are headed is everything I expected and more. I definitely want to keep an open mind, I will look at everything."

Has LeBron has ever been publicly quoted about the possibility of signing an early extension? To most media and fans it’s a foregone conclusion that #23 will wait until summer 2010 to assess his full value. No matter what LeBron says, I still believe the latter scenario will come to pass. LeBron loves him some spotlight, and that thing will be white hot by this time next year.

And yet...I cannot help but be heartened by his recent comments. Perhaps they’re an indication of where LeBron’s leaning, even if he does go UFA come 2010. The window is wide open for this team, just coming off the biggest win of the season on the road against a resurgent Nuggets’ squad. How great would it be for LeBron to sign long-term next summer in the wake of the franchise’s first championship? Austin Carr, God bless him, would have to be institutionalized.

It seems everyone – from Jalen Rose to Stephen A. Smith to the jabroni on the talkback – has the answer on where Cleveland’s current best hope for a ring will be plying his trade come opening tipoff, Nov. 2010. The truth is nobody really knows...James himself probably does not know for sure. That ambiguity will only ratchet LeBron’s stock even higher before signing day...just the way he like it.

However, I’ve never felt better about LeBron staying than I do now. 22-4 speaks for itself. The big guy’s recent words may be just another ploy in a long-range game, but they should bring at least a small smile to the tired faces of us Cleveland fans.

JUST FOR FUN: Carlos Boozer told ESPN this week he’s thinking about opting out of the final year of his contract with the Jazz to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Boozer, who’s missed 16 games with knee problems, “clarified” those comments in a conference call with reporters.

He said that opting out only to re-sign with the Jazz “would be a beautiful thing, especially if we're able to keep the pieces around us and have a chance to win a championship.”

Now why does that sound familiar?

Boozer could also wait until the monster free agent class of 2010, a time when the Cavs theoretically could have the cap space to sign not just LeBron but another big-time player. If I may play devil’s advocate, would you want Boozer back on the Cavs?

Think about it before answering: Boozer may be a snake who “stabbed a blind man in the back,” but when healthy he’s an All-Star level low-post scoring presence and rebounder. Big Ben and Z don’t have many years left, you know.

My fellow CST bloggers and I have bandied this subject about when not discussing men’s fashions or the geopolitical ramifications of president-elect Obama’s Cabinet choices. I have always been for bringing Boozer back. The Cavs beat Boston and possibly win the championship last year with the money grubbing bastard in the lineup, of that I do not doubt. It comes down to wanting this city to get a ring; at this point I just don’t care how you wrap it.

I know at least a few of you, including CST contributor Ryan, are dead set against the idea. Even now I’d be reluctant to take Boozer back due to his injury history. But if he can prove he’s healthy, I’d welcome the soulless SOB back. You’re talking about the possibility of multiple championships with Mo, LeBron and Boozer in the fold. Isn’t that what it’s all about?