Five Ways Tonight's NBA Draft Could Affect LeBron James' Decision
The Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, is the site for tonight's 2014 NBA Draft, also known as the "Hey, LeBron, look what I can do!" show. A normal NBA Draft already has lots of moving parts -- more than any other professional sport -- but with the added pressure of impressing LeBron James and/or moving parts around to make space for him, tonight is sure to take that activity to the next level. If you're not trying to get LeBron James, you're trying to get the next LeBron James -- it all comes back LeBron James. Have I mentioned LeBron James? LeBron James, drink.
The draft promises to be heavy with roster tinkering and future mortgaging with the King in mind. Here are a few things that could affect where LeBron James plays next season.
Re: @ESPNSteinLine report of NYK exploring Shump for 1st-round pick: Watch the Heat, potentially using No. 26 as main bait for Shumpert.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) June 23, 2014
1. Will the Heat trade its first-round pick for immediate help or keep it in an attempt to get younger?
Miami Heat fans have gotten used to the NBA Draft being pretty uneventful, but that might not be the case this year. What the Heat does with the first-round pick tonight will be the first domino to fall in the LeBron James sweepstakes. Will the Heat trade the #26 selection for a more proven player in an attempt to appease LeBron, or will the team roll the dice on an unproven college star in an attempt to offset an aging roster? It will be interesting to see how things play out.
Heat will try to package No. 26 & Norris Cole to get up in the late teens for Napier.— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) June 25, 2014
2. Everyone knows the Heat wants Connecticut's Shabazz Napier, but more important, everyone knows LeBron James likes him.
The Miami Heat liking UConn's Shabazz Napier has been the worst-kept secret in all of the draft. Everyone knowing you love a player is normally a bad thing, so the Heat is rumored to be looking to trade up from the 26th slot in the first round to select Napier, but it won't come cheap. Rumor is the Heat could be forced to offer Norris Cole, the #26 pick, plus its 2017 first-round pick to move up, and even then the team wouldn't be sure he would last to the pick it acquires. LeBron James tweeted during the NCAA Tournament that there wasn't a better point guard in the draft than Napier, so of course the Heat has added incentive to nab Shabazz. Most important, we can all agree having more "Shabazz" in our lives would be a good thing.
3. Will the Heat continue to pretend international players do not exist?
For nearly a decade, the Miami Heat has ignored the international pool of prospects, ranking second-to-last in minutes played by foreign players. ESPN's Tom Haberstroh tweeted this information last week, and right away I asked him if nearly all of those minutes came from 2010, when the Heat rostered Zydrunas Ilguauskas. Yup, that was it, nearly all of it. Besides Big Z, the Heat has had no interest, which seems odd for a team that needs to use every resource to find affordable talent. In addition to the 26th pick, the Heat holds the 55th selection; if the team is to break this trend, you would expect it to happen there. With LeBron looking for help, and the Heat in desperate need of scoring options off the bench, will Miami look to a more established specialty player from overseas?
4. What new and exciting way will the Cavs screw up the draft this year?
The Cavs can't possibly screw up the top choice in arguably the most stacked NBA Draft in a decade, can they? The answer is, of course they can! Last year the Cavs shocked everyone on draft night by taking UNLV's Anthony Bennett first overall. Bennett went on to average four points and three rebounds a game in his rookie year. Will the Cavs use the pick to bring in a more established player to help lure LeBron James back home? Rumor is they had a deal close that would have landed them Kevin Love, but Love refuses to sign with Cleveland long-term. What the Cavs do with the first selection will affect not only the rest of the draft but also the LeBron sweepstakes.
Report: Warriors could try to acquire both Kevin Love and LeBron JamesJune 25, 2014
5. Is tonight the night the Wolves finally trade Kevin Love?
This isn't so much about LeBron being impressed with who acquires Love; it's more about whatever team he goes to being all but out of the running to acquire LeBron's services. Whoever gets him will have to give up a ridiculous package, leaving very little for a LeBron sign-and-trade deal and less money after they sign Love to the long-term max deal he's looking for. That being said, the teams that lose out on Love may change course and look to sign Carmelo Anthony. Love seems the likely first domino to fall, and it could happen tonight.
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