At 11:01 PM, Central Time, the long-awaited “Summer of 2010” free-agency period will begin in the NBA.  Talks will finally be able to take place between teams and players.  LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, Ray Allen, and Joe Johnson have headlined the speculation for years now.  There are also other lesser known, but great, players that have unclear future statuses , like David Lee and Rudy Gay.  Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas) and Paul Pierce (Boston) have recently made their intents clear that they do plan on opting out of their contracts, as well. 

The Chicago Bulls have emerged as the popular favorites to sign, 2-time reigning MVP, LeBron James.  But, however, it is possible that James returns to his home-state Cleveland Cavaliers.  But other teams besides the Bulls and Cavs are in-play:

Franchise – # of Max-contracts possible

  1. N.Y. Knicks – 2.1
  2. N.J. Nets – 2.0
  3. Chi. Bulls – 1.7
  4. Mia. Heat – 1.67  (if Dwyane Wade re-signs)

The Chicago Bulls have plenty of talent, in the forms of Rose, Noah, and Deng.  Regardless, the Miami Heat do plan on going forward with their pitch for James’ and Bosh’s services – but are considered a long-shot due to their relatively tight budget, and the unlikelihood of moving Michael Beasley.  The Knicks and Nets both can afford to pay 2 maximum contract players in the 2010-11 season, though both of these particular franchises have struggled to have any success at all for many years now.  Cleveland would be a decent option for LeBron for the simple fact that James would make the most money there next season.  And it does not look bad from a winning stand-point either (coming off back back-to-back 60+ win seasons).  The Cavaliers are his home-state team – James is adored in Cleveland, Akron, and all over Ohio.

Teams will be able to sign their newly-acquired free-agents, in one week, on July 8, 2010.

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