NBA / Jun 30, 2010 / 4:33 pm

LeBron James to the Chicago Bulls: Pros and Cons

In the biggest free-agency bonanza to ever hit the NBA, LeBron James is the first domino that has to fall before everyone else figures out their next move. From D-Wade all the way down to Brian Scalabrine, you could say every other free agent’s future will in some way be affected by LeBron’s decision.

With the official start of free agency set for 12:01 a.m. Wednesday night/Thursday morning, we decided to look at each team believed to be in the running for LeBron and delve into the reasons why LBJ would and wouldn’t (or should and shouldn’t) sign with them. Next up: The Chicago Bulls.

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When you think of the Chicago Bulls, what runs through your mind? Is it red and white, Derrick Rose, the Sears Tower, or the city itself?

More than likely, those images will quickly jump to Dennis Rodman, Scottie Pippen and the Alan Parsons Project. Soon, you’ll be talking six championships and the statue of some guy stationed right outside of the arena.

The biggest question for LeBron James this summer is whether or not he wants that weight on his shoulders. Basketball-wise, there is no place like Chicago for him. But, is he going to want that presence constantly looming over him?

PROS — Chicago has two great building blocks in All-Star Derrick Rose and up-and-coming big man Joakim Noah. Noah, in particular, would thrive playing alongside LeBron. He is a good athlete and works extremely hard rebounding and on the defensive end, so there’s no question he would endear himself to James. The rest of the roster is somewhat of an unknown at this point, but would be easy to fill.

Chicago sits third-highest on the list of teams with the most cap space — New Jersey just recently slithered past them by releasing Keyon Dooling and trading Yi Jianlian — with over $29 million available. That’s almost enough to sign two max free agents outright. However, Chicago does own another solid building block in Luol Deng, who was once considered a future All-Star. Deng becomes expendable, especially if James arrives, because they play the same position. In that case, Deng could easily be used as a sign-and-trade chip to get Chris Bosh out of Toronto. Also, the Raptors could ask for young forward Taj Gibson and Noah. In a best-case scenario, LeBron could be joining a nucleus of Bosh, Rose and Noah, which would make as good a foursome as there is in the NBA. Both stars would get their money and both would be happy.

Newly-hired coach Tom Thibodeau is considered a defensive genius as the architect for the vaunted Boston Celtics’ unit of the past few years. Since Vinny Del Negro was considered an average coach at best, Thibodeau’s hiring is creating a lot of excitement around the Bulls. Unlike Cleveland, which struck out with Tom Izzo, and Miami with Erik Spoelstra, Chicago now has a veteran coach associated with winning and playing for championships. Jeff Van Gundy said that he originally hired Thibodeau in New York based on his offensive genius. If that’s the case, Chicago could have a coach who is the full package. After struggling through years of sideline ineptitude in Cleveland, that’s a welcome thought for LeBron.

Chicago is a winning organization and has someone in owner Jerry Reinsdorf who has experience dealing not only with combustible egos (Jordan, Pippen, Rodman and Phil Jackson) but also with the problems that occur from winning. At times in Cleveland, the Cavs’ ownership melted under pressure from LeBron’s camp. They overreacted, made awful signings and generally acted impatiently. That won’t happen in Chicago. LeBron will fall in line when it comes to personnel decisions.

The city of Chicago is also known for its fan support. And there is little doubt that players would flock to go there to play beside all-stars like the ones mentioned above. To add to that, the economy and opportunities in Chicago may not be New York, but that never seemed like it hindered Michael Jordan‘s world appeal. He did just fine.

The shadow of Jordan is large, but we’ve heard James has such a strong admiration for MJ that no matter what happens with Chicago or any other team, James is determined to give the Bulls a chance to win his services.

CONS — Just a few years ago, Chicago drafted Rose as the number one pick with the intention of building their franchise around him. If LeBron comes, that goes out the window and Rose instantly becomes number two, perhaps three, in the pecking order. How is a guy who is at his best with the ball in his hands and doesn’t possess a great jumper going to deal with it? If LeBron comes, Rose is going to be the one adjusting his game and it might not be for the better.

While Chicago is one of the larger media markets in the country, it lacks the superstar appeal and larger-than-life persona New York can offer while also being without the glamour of South Beach. Chicago has proven it can be nice housing ground for icons in the past like Jordan. But, can James do the same?

And finally, perhaps the biggest obstacle the Bulls must overcome to win LeBron’s rights is the issue of Mr. Jordan. Normally, a team’s history is a plus. But because the world is still trying to find “The Next MJ,” LeBron will constantly be compared to the The G.O.A.T. if he signs up with his former team. That creates this situation: And more than likely, no matter what LeBron does, he will never reach Jordan’s status. That will hinder his own legacy if he signs with Chicago.

ODDS — 3 to 1.

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  • dk

    With a report earlier in the day of how LeBron James and Ray Allen could end up in Cleveland together, it’s now being rumored that LeBron has spoken to Allen about playing for less money in Miami.
    LeBron is supposedly referring to him, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh as ‘Dream Team,’ and supposedly has already asked Ray-Ray to join the three of them in Miami. Again, most of this is coming from unnamed sources, but it is starting to feel like Bron, Wade and Bosh all have a plan in place to play together, and if they can get Allen to join the mix, they are going to be very tough to beat.

  • Twon

    its goin to be Scary if LeBron & Bosh Land in Chicago.Because i never seen LeBron play with an Elite PG like Rose and they will coexist.To see him and Rose in a Fastbreak….whoa!!! That MJ Shadow stuff is a Joke.

  • the unknown known

    ESPN’s Chris Broussard proposes that it will take a massive sign-and-trade by the Cavs for Chris Bosh, as well as signing Ray Allen, for the Cavaliers to keep LeBron James.

    To make salaries work, Broussard suggests the Cavs would have to trade Jamario Moon, Delonte West, Anderson Varejao and J.J. Hickson to the Raptors in a sign-and-trade to get Bosh. He then proposes the Cavs land Allen with their mid-level exception, which would give the Cavs a starting lineup of Mo Williams, Allen, LeBron, Bosh and Shaquille O’Neal. It’s complicated and probably not likely, but it sounds like a reasonable scenario in order for the Cavs to keep LeBron in Cleveland.

  • control

    I would find it hard to be a raps fan if they signed valgina…how many 50mil wastes of space a team need?

  • http://twitter.com/PoppiGEE POPPI GEE

    Pros – Young squad he can do work with.
    Cons – Forever being in shoes he can never fill.

  • Leo

    Everyone who plays basketball in the NBA has to live up to MJ period,no matter what team they are on. Kobe had Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Magic before him. Kobe is one of the greatest to ever play. As soon as Kobe’s decides to lace up his shoes and go home with 5, maybe more, rings a superstar player shouldnt play in LA b/c the shoes are to big to fill? MJ’s legacy only gets in the minds of those that let it.

  • Michael

    @dk- that rumor is BS, unless the rest of the big 3 leave several million on the table. The can’t sign 3 max players even with trading the last two signed players. Allen is not going to play for the minimum. Realize this: if they somehow get all 3, which is highly unlikely… Bosh has voiced public doubts and we know the weekend summit rumor is BS… The other 9 will be scrubs at league minimum guys… The heat have no other cap rumor. Wade is injury prone and the other can’t play all the minutes. If someone gets injured then they are screwed; even if they don’t I’m not convinced they win a title… Honestly I’d bet on the lakers first.

  • Jah

    Imagine, if you will…

    PG – Derrick Rose
    SG – Ray Allen
    SF – LeBron James
    PF – Chris Bosh
    C – Joakim Noah

    Oh, yeah…it could happen. Bring the ‘chip back East and keep it there for a WHILE.

  • bsteezy3

    No LeBron News Until He Actually Does Something: Pros and Cons

    Pros: No more speculation and Brett Favre-like reports (you know, reports over nothing)

    Cons: There are no cons

  • Vinny Del Negro

    Lebron will never be able to get out of Jordan’s shadow. MJ changed the way the world sees the game. Everyone after him is just following in the GOAT’s footsteps. That being said, bringing the championship back to Chicago is about the closest Lebron can get to reaching MJ’s level.

  • http://getyourishbusted.net Chicagorilla

    I got a CON for you to add,

    I don’t want that spoiled, Cap-space eating, in game dancing,non-dunk contest entering f^ker here in Chicago. Plus i don’t want him getting mad when Noah bangs his mother.

  • laura

    another con: the goat was never even appreciated by the bulls organization. He proves it in his hall of fame speech. As he is speaking he says “Jerry krause is supposed to be here but i know sure as hell i didn’t invite him”.

  • lola

    Lebron is a very good bballer no doubt, but MJ will always be the best. And as for The Bulls, i think he’d do amazing along side Rose. If Rose gets traded, who the hell cares. Bosh will come right in.