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Cleveland, New York Could End Up Big Free Agency Losers

Posted on July 02, 2010 by Matt Petersen

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James stands on the court against the Boston Celtics during the fourth quarter in Game 6 of their NBA Eastern Conference playoff basketball series in Boston, Massachusetts, in this May 13, 2010 file photo. July 1, 2010 marks the opening day of the free-agent signing period amid intense media speculation about whether James, the NBA's Most Valuable Player for the past two seasons, will remain at Cleveland. REUTERS/Adam Hunger/Files (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

The NBA: where the mighty fall and the hopeful are crushed.

That’s the story for the Cleveland and New York, respectively. At least, that’s how it looks right now. Nothing is written in stone yet, but indications abound Cleveland and New York will be the big losers once the dust settles and the contracts are signed this summer.

First, Cleveland. Deep down, they know LeBron isn’t coming back. Why would he? Shaquille O’Neal is now officially irrelevant. Antawn Jamison showed the losing atmosphere in Washington had a deeper effect than anyone anticapated. Mo Williams is N0-Show-Williams come playoff time.

The Cavs are losing their homegrown superstar, and it’s debatable if they even know why. Big reason: they panicked and moved too soon to get LeBron help each time they made a move. LeBron wanted a number-two guy, so they went out and got a number three-or-four in Mo Williams. The Cavs needed an interior presence, so they got Shaq two years too late instead of looking at other options.

Despite all that, it’s hard not to feel for the city of Cleveland. It’s not the fans’ fault management never did quite well enough. Lack of fault won’t solve the lack of James however, and it will hurt. Who knows what the future of Cleveland basketball will look like…well, other than Antawn Jamison leading the tanking job for next year’s lottery, anyway.

Cleveland’s polar opposite, New York, is in equal danger of losing out on James, as well as anyone else of consequence. In a way, it’s just as disappointing to New Yorkers as James’ Cleveland departure will be. They’ve been told to put up with awful teams for two years, all the while being told, “Just hang with us ’till 2010. It’ll be worth it.”

Instead, the B-level free agents New York saw as its consolation prize  are already getting snatched up. Rudy Gay has already agreed to re-sign with Memphis. Joe Johnson is close to doing the same with Atlanta.

Meanwhile, the big names are looking at other teams with similar cap space but far superior supporting casts. Miami’s got D-Wade. Chicago boasts Derrick Rose and Joakhim Noah. New Jersey offers Brook Lopez and Devin Harris. New York has…Eddy Curry?

Aside from the on-the-court issues, New York may have cursed itself with their incredibly desperate situation. Who wants to inherit the “Guy We’ve Been Waiting For” mantle from the most analytical city on the planet (with no other help on the roster to help carrry it)? Not LeBron, and probably not anyone for that matter.

Cleveland and New York are  more alike right now than they’d care to be. The only question is whose fans will feel worse when all is said and done.


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