Expect LeBron, Rivers to Flow to Chicago
He's going to the Chicago Bulls.
Oh, and here's another thing: When LeBron James switches his dribbling home around the Great Lakes from Erie to Michigan, he'll bring his own coach with him.
It'll be Doc Rivers.
Now you can move on with the rest of your lives.
What I just said isn't a done deal, but only because it is slightly an eternity between now and July 1, when teams officially can begin negotiating with free agents. I mean, James could search deep into his soul, discover that he really doesn't wish to leave the area of his birth and youth in northeastern Ohio and reverse some of those curses on Cleveland sports teams by declaring he'll stay with the Cavaliers.
As for Rivers, his Boston Celtics could win a second world championship in three years this June, and then he could decide to remain with the Big Three for a shot at a third in four years. He also has a year left on his contract. So, when the Bulls ask the Celtics for permission to buy out Rivers' final season, the Celtics could do the illogical thing by telling their coach who wants to go elsewhere that he isn't allowed to leave.
Then you have the Bulls, who could shrug over remaining in a free-fall since Michael Jordan left in the late 1990s and refuse to allow James to dictate the terms of his signing.
You also could have little green men invading Earth.
I'll stick with the likelihood of the new-look Bulls finishing the summer with James, Rivers -- and who knows? Maybe Chris Bosh -- to complement the already splendid Derrick Rose. This goes beyond the fact that The Daily Herald of Arlington Heights (Ill)., cited NBA sources on Sunday as saying that James already has contacted Rose to express interest of joining the third-year player as a teammate.
You can attribute my thoughts on LeBron's future to a mighty whisper in a breeze from the Windy City.
There also is common sense.
Which brings us to something that made no sense at the time. In November, James emerged from the ozone -- and not because of the rocket boosters in his legs -- to say that he wished to change the number on his Cleveland uniform from 23 to 6. He said he wanted to do so out of respect for Jordan, his hero, whose No. 23 is retired with the Bulls.
Which means that, if James ever wanted to become a Bull someday, he would have to switch numbers.
Which means this wasn't a coincidence: James completed paperwork in March with the NBA for a number change, and it will become official for the 2010-2011 -- with James in Chicago.
So why didn't this make sense back then? Well, No. 6 belongs to Bill Russell and Julius "Dr. J" Erving. In other words, if James is so into respecting the greats of the past, he also wouldn't have taken No. 6. He did it, anyway, because he was preparing for Chicago.
Rivers is doing the same. For one, James loves Rivers' coaching style, and that was even before the Celtics shocked his Cavaliers in the second round of the playoffs this year. For another, Rivers has been hounded by Celtics general manager Danny Ainge for the last few months to sign a contract extension, but Rivers keeps saying no. This is despite Rivers spending the latter half of his six years with the Celtics coaching three aging but potent All-Stars in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.
Not only that, Rivers has Rajon Rondo, a rising point guard, and the whole combination has the Celtics these days with a 1-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Orlando Magic.
Most folks in the volatile coaching world of the NBA would have signed a new deal within seconds after Ainge asked the first time. Instead, Rivers keeps saying he will wait until the summer to decide his future. He keeps saying that, if he decides to continue as an NBA coach, he wants to stay with the Celtics. Otherwise, he keeps saying that he'll return to the Orlando area, where he'll enjoy retirement at 48 with his wife, Kristen, while following the exploits of his four growing children.
We're back to that cliché that goes, "I want to spend more time with my family," which roughly means, "There is something else going on in my life that I don't wish to discuss."
Rivers will join James in Chicago, all right. As solid as the Celtics have been in recent years is as shaky as they could become in a hurry due to aging legs. And Chicago is Rivers' home town. And his wife is from up the road in Milwaukee, where Rivers went to school at Marquette.
This also makes sense for the Bulls. Just from the speculation that James could be headed their way, they've already seen a mighty spike in their seasons ticket sales.
This makes basketball sense, too. Even though James and Rose have been the primary ball handlers for their respective teams, James only was doing so to appease Cavaliers coach Mike Brown, more of a defensive than an offensive guy. James wouldn't have an issue with switching to shooting guard. And speaking of issues, there would be none regarding Rose, a mellow soul, who would defer to King James if asked.
It gets better for the Bulls, who are $20 million under the salary cap. They have enough cash for Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson to grab James and others (such as free agent Bosh in a possible sign-and-trade) for a Chicago roster already filled with the impressive likes of Rose, Joakim Noah, Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng.
You can forget about that John Calipari thing. There were reports that a mutual friend of Calipari and James approached the Bulls about delivering the pair as a package deal.
Calipari's mantra has been that he isn't gong anywhere since he ended his first season as Kentucky basketball coach in March. So, not surprisingly, he ripped this James report on his Twitter account by saying, "Now, do I have to respond to these rumors too?"
No, Calipari doesn't. All he has to do is stay quiet and listen with the rest of us for James (and Rivers) to snort.
You know, like Bulls.