Posted Jul 4 2010 11:25AM
Now, we wait. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have completed their meetings with the teams looking to sign them and are pondering their decisions this holiday weekend. Most expect to wait until at least Monday before hearing any word of where the big three agents want to go, but in this day and age, news could break at any point.
James is the best player of the three and seemingly the first domino, but his decision could also depend on what Bosh and Wade decide to do. James and Wade appear to have choices to make completely independent of each other, but Bosh's decision has been tied to both. He could join Wade in Miami or Chicago, join James in Chicago or New Jersey, or just go to Chicago (or even Houston) by himself.
The decisions of each will affect the other two, and the decisions of all three could affect everyone across the league. The list starts with their families and associates, of course. It also includes team staff and even the media in the different cities involved. But the list below is the 25 NBA players, coaches, executives and owners who have the most to lose or gain by the decisions of James, Wade and Bosh.
1. Dan Gilbert -- Majority Owner, Cleveland Cavaliers
Of the teams looking to sign James, the Cavs have the most to lose by not getting him. Gilbert has spent a lot of money (player salaries, luxury tax, new practice facility, upgrading Quicken Loans Arena) trying to keep James happy over the last seven years. And if James leaves this summer, the value of the franchise would drop considerably.
2. Pat Riley -- President, Miami Heat
Wade was supposed to be the one star most likely to re-sign with his old team, but no team took more risk than the Heat did in getting to this point. They stripped their roster down more than anyone else, and right now, Wade has less of a supporting cast in Miami than he did the last two seasons. If he chooses to join a ready-made supporting cast in Chicago, Riley would be left with an empty cupboard.
3. Donnie Walsh -- President, New York Knicks
To be fair, it was impossible to undo all the damage that Isiah Thomas inflicted on the Knicks in just two years. There was just no getting rid of Eddy Curry's contract. Still, by stripping the Knicks' roster of talent and also trading away future draft picks, Walsh put his team "all-in" on the Summer of 2010. And if he doesn't bring James or Wade to New York, Knicks fans will come away feeling duped. Amar'e Stoudemire is an All-Star, but not much of an upgrade over David Lee.
4. Derrick Rose -- Point Guard, Chicago Bulls
No player in the league could have his role altered by the decisions James and Wade make as much as Rose. If one of the two stars joins the Bulls, Rose would no longer be the team's primary playmaker and would need to learn how to play off the ball for the first time in his career. His ability to shoot from the perimeter would be under the spotlight going forward.
5. Chris Grant -- General Manager, Cleveland Cavaliers
Grant has been the man in charge in Cleveland for exactly one month. He hired Byron Scott, but his second act as GM (re-signing James or losing him) will be much more important and have an effect on every move he makes afterward. If James chooses to stay, Grant must find a way to get him more help with a lack of roster flexibility. If James chooses to leave, Grant will be forced to rebuild without many young assets.
6 and 7. Carlos Boozer and David Lee -- Free Agent Power Forwards
Boozer and Lee are on hold as teams wait on word from James, Wade and Bosh. Once Bosh decides where he's going (whether or not it's to join James or Wade), those teams still in need of a power forward (potentially Chicago, Miami and New Jersey) will make strong pitches for Boozer and Lee.
8. Erik Spoelstra -- Head Coach, Miami Heat
The decisions of the big three will affect the job security of all the coaches and executives on this list, but maybe none more directly than Spoelstra. If the Heat bring back Wade and add another star or two, Riley may choose to return to the bench, as he did in 2005. Spoelstra is a smart coach who turned a bunch of prospective free agents into one of the best defensive teams in the league this past season. He's just 39 years old and has a bright future no matter what happens this summer, but starting over is never easy.
9. Mike D'Antoni -- Head Coach, New York Knicks
D'Antoni knew what he was getting into when he took the Knicks' job instead of the Bulls' job two years ago. But dealing with an ever-changing roster and a lack of players who know how to win, the coach has clearly been frustrated with how the last two seasons have gone. The Knicks will be a better team no matter what happens in free agency, but D'Antoni's offense needs a top-flight playmaker. And if the Knicks don't get one of the two big playmakers on the market -- and worse, if one of them ends up in Chicago -- D'Antoni's frustration won't go away completely.
10. Byron Scott -- Head Coach, Cleveland Cavaliers
Coaching James is a gift and a curse. You have the ability to put the ball in the hands of the league's most gifted player and know that he's going to make the right play the majority of the time. But you also have to deal with high expectations and a tendency to rely too much on your star.
11 and 12. Tom Thibodeau and Avery Johnson -- Head Coaches, Chicago Bulls and New Jersey Nets
Both the Bulls and Nets already have some young talent in place, but adding James or Wade to their roster would dramatically change both the expectations and game plans before these guys have even coached their first game for their new teams.
13. Amar'e Stoudemire -- Free Agent Power Forward
Stoudemire is in New York, but he hasn't yet finalized a five-year max deal with the Knicks. In fact, one report has him set to meet with the Nets and Bulls later in the week. Another has him ready to recruit other players to the Big Apple. Is he waiting to see where James and Wade go? It's hard to get a read on the Stoudemire situation, but if he's the only star that the Knicks acquire this summer, he'll have to deal with the expectations by himself.
14. Luol Deng -- Small Forward -- Chicago Bulls
If James chooses to sign with Chicago, Deng will likely be sent packing in exchange for players who can better complement the MVP.
15. T.B.D. - Future President, New Jersey Nets
A search is currently underway to find a replacement for Rod Thorn, who will step down from his post in a couple of weeks. No matter what, with new owner Mikhail Prokhorov in place, Thorn's replacement will have more resources at his disposal than Thorn has had in the last couple of years. But if LeBron James is also on the roster, then it's an entirely different job description.
16. Bryan Colangelo -- President, Toronto Raptors
It's clear that Bosh is not coming back to Toronto, but his choice can still have a big effect on the Raptors. If Bosh wants to work out a sign-and-trade deal to get an extra $30 million of guaranteed money, then Toronto can get an asset or two in return. It could be a young player with upside, a veteran who's willing to defend, a draft pick, a large trade exception or a combination of any of the four. And as Colangelo tries to rework his roster once again, he needs all the assets he can get.
17. Mikhail Prokhorov -- Majority Owner, New Jersey Nets
Prokhorov bought the Nets with visions of turning the team into a dynasty. That will be much easier to do if he can bring James to Brooklyn. Financially, Prokhorov will be just fine either way, but this is his first foray into American business and landing James would be a great way to put his stamp on the NBA.
18. Kobe Bryant -- Shooting Guard, Los Angeles Lakers
Bryant needs just one more championship to tie Michael Jordan, but if James or Wade team with an All-Star big man and a solid supporting cast, it may be much more difficult for Bryant to get that sixth ring.
19-22. Mike Miller, Richard Jefferson, Matt Barnes and Ronnie Brewer -- Free Agent Small Forwards
No matter what team James chooses to sign with, there will be a few openings at small forward around the league. The Clippers, Heat and Nets, in particular, have big holes at the three. Miller, with his ability to play the two as well, will also get interest from the Knicks and has a big opportunity to cash in.
23. Carmelo Anthony -- Small Forward, Denver Nuggets
Back in 2006, Anthony chose to sign a longer contract extension than James, Bosh and Wade. But his future is still tied to this free agent class. Those teams missing out on James and Wade may look toward Anthony as Plan B. Anthony has two more years on his current deal, but has the option to become a free agent next summer.
24. Chris Paul -- Point Guard -- New Orleans Hornets
The Hornets insist that they're not looking to trade Paul and most likely, he'll spend the next two years in New Orleans. But he has the ability to opt out of his contract in 2012 and if he sees two of his Olympic teammates having success together, he may look for a similar opportunity when he has the chance.
25. Mo Williams -- Point Guard, Cleveland Cavaliers
For the second straight year, Williams struggled to provide James with enough support in a critical playoff series. No matter what James chooses to do, the Cavs may look to make a change in their backcourt.
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