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Bulls Fri Jun 25 2010

The Great Free Agent Arms Race: Chicago v. Miami

It is not a good time to be a French sports fan.

First, the French National Football team ("Les Bleus") becomes a source of national embarrassment at the World Cup with terrible play, insubordination and a general sense of apathy. Then one of their countrymen loses the longest tennis match in the history of the game (John Isner beats Nicolas Mahut). And now, just last night, Kevin Seraphin was drafted by our Chicago Bulls, but only as a movable piece. Mr. Seraphin has no chance of ever playing for the Bulls. As Gar Forman puts it, "We are currently in discussions to trade our draft rights to Kevin Seraphin." Sorry French fans, at least you have Tony Parker.

The 2010 NBA Draft was hijacked by a far more intriguing subject last night: the Great Free Agency Arms Race. As exciting as the careers of John Wall, Evan Turner and Derrick Favors might be, they cannot begin to capture the same amount of attention of a free agent class that has been in public's minds for years. Enjoy the bright lights of New York now, rookies, you will instantly be wiped off the front pages.

What last night proved was that there are two teams that are going head to head for the biggest prize of this free agent class. Both Chicago and Miami have positioned themselves to be the best possible destination for LeBron James.

"In the last 24 hours, the Heat traded out of the first-round, dumped guard Daequan Cook, and saw center Joel Anthony opt-out of his contract. The simple reason behind this move was free agency," writes Tim Kephart of CBS4 in Miami.

Not to be outdone, the Bulls countered by moving Kirk Hinrich and their number 17 pick in the first round to Washington. NBA.com explains "the deal will clear Hinrich's $9 million salary off of the Bulls' salary cap for next season, as well as the $1.3 million in guaranteed first-year money they would have had to pay their first-round pick, and reduce Chicago's payroll for next season to $22.8 million."

Both of these moves have their clear intentions. To persuade James to sign, a team will need to be able to bring in an additional max-level free agent (read: Chris Bosh). While neither team is officially under the cap figure they would need to be in order to pull this type of move off, it is only a matter of a few million. Further moves will follow that will enable either team to create an unbelievably talent rich team.

As of today, June 25th, with only a matter of days before the official start of free agency, LeBron James can start to understand the specifics of his choice. In regards strictly to a basketball decision, James will be choosing between taking himself and Chris Bosh to Miami and teaming with Dwyane Wade or to Chicago with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. It is good to be the King.

This is not the first chapter in the battle between Chicago and Miami. Wade has been positioning Miami as the premier destination for free agents for quite some time now. The Chicago native has been rather outspoken in his words towards the Chicago Bulls franchise.

No matter what happens this summer, one thing will be clear. Chicago and Miami will both be improved heading into next season. With all that has been said and seen between the two teams there is all the makings of a meaningful rivalry. But only one team can truly win this offseason. Only time will tell.
 

Tracey Marrow / June 28, 2010 10:23 AM

Dear Lebron, We Need You

Who do you want LeBron James to play for?
Vote for free or align your vote w/ a donation supporting a local charity in your favorite team's city.
http://bit.ly/dearlebron #dearlebronweneedyou

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