Must They All Hail The King?

It’s not at all unexpected that the free agent status of LeBron James, a 4-time MVP who has led his team to four consecutive NBA Finals appearances, is generating more media attention than Justin Bieber and Johnny Manziel getting into a fistfight at a Miley Cyrus concert before accidentally being crushed to death by a giant wrecking ball prop.

Must they all Hail the King?

What’s puzzling is that a good number of NBA free agents seem content to let LeBron’s decision dictate where they end up instead of seeking to carve out their own legacies.

Witness Chris Bosh, who agreed to opt out of the final two years of his contract in Miami to clear cap space so that the Heat could figure out how to keep their “Big 3” intact. Bosh has since been courted by numerous NBA teams, and even has a 4-year, $88 million dollar offer on the table from the Houston Rockets, a team that many would argue is in a much better position to compete for a championship than Miami, even if LeBron does re-sign with the Heat.

Bosh would fit in perfectly with a young Rockets team that already has two superstars on its roster in Dwight Howard and James Harden. His signing with the Rockets would allow the team to exercise their Bird rights on restricted free agent Chandler Parsons (who signed a 3-year, $46 million offer sheet with the Dallas Mavericks this week), a move that can’t happen if they don’t sign Bosh first.

But alas, there’s no word from Chris Bosh. He’s waiting on LeBron.

Then there’s Carmelo Anthony, who’s had face-to-face meetings with representatives from the Bulls, Rockets, Mavericks, and Lakers. Chicago seemed to be the most logical landing spot for Anthony, as the Bulls are in desperate need of a consistent scorer to compliment their suffocating defense. If not the Bulls, it was rumored that Anthony would remain with the Knicks to take advantage of the extra money he could earn by staying put. But when word got out that Bosh was considering the Rockets, and his potential move could open the door for Anthony to join LeBron in Miami, things once again ground to a halt.

Anthony could significantly shift the balance of power among the NBA’s championship contenders, especially if he remains in the much weaker Eastern Conference and signs with a team like Chicago. He’d have the opportunity to play with one of the league’s best young players (Derrick Rose, assuming he’s healthy), best defenders (Joakim Noah) and best coaches (Tom Thibodeau) while increasing the likelihood that he finally gets over the hump and wins a championship.

But alas, there’s no word from Carmelo Anthony. He’s waiting on LeBron.

Like Bosh, Dwayne Wade opted out of the final two years of his contract in Miami, leaving some $41 million dollars on the table. Certainly he did so with the understanding that Miami was supremely confident in its ability to re-sign LeBron James. I mean, Wade’s too smart to leave that kind of money on the table if LeBron’s not even coming back, right?

Right?

While his high profile teammates are fielding offers left and right, no such offers are being tossed Wade’s way. Perhaps there have been discussions in Miami that the public is not privy to about what the organization plans to do with Wade if they lose LeBron and Bosh. But if those two do leave, it’s safe to say that Miami becomes a significantly less attractive option for Wade no matter what he’s being paid. Certainly Wade, a 3-time NBA champion and former Finals MVP in his own right, could generate a great deal of interest on the free agent market if he chose to throw his hat in the ring. Seems an appealing option for a player of his caliber.

But alas, there’s no word from Dwayne Wade. He’s waiting on LeBron.

There’s been an undeniable move toward the “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” school of thinking when building NBA rosters in recent years, as superstar players focus less on how to beat their nemeses and more on how they can combine forces with them. My question to Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade, and all the other players out there waiting to see where LeBron James ends up is: why not put LeBron on the defensive for a change? Why not make the decision that’s best for you, regardless of what LeBron does? Wouldn’t it be nice to hear him have to answer questions about your “decision” for a change?

But alas, LeBron doesn’t have to answer those questions. He’s never been put in that type of situation, and won’t be again this year.

Everyone else is too busy waiting.

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