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My NBA Dream Free Agency

Chris Schneck

I am a 76ers fan. Although these days, I cheer for Commodore Hinkie, first and foremost. I cheer for Hinke more than anyone who wears, you know, an actual 76ers jersey.

Hinkie is a 21st century-folk hero: a super rich Robin Hood who works for venture capitalists, but promises to redistribute NBA wealth from the various dynasties to one of its middle class.

Unfortunately, Hinkie hasn't quite made the 76ers into a decent, or even watchable, team yet. That, in addition to my current residence in Atlanta, has turned me into a different type of NBA free agent - - a Free Agent Fan - - whose alleges are up for grabs every summer. NBA teams compete for rings in June, but they compete for my heart in July. 

Let the games begin. 

LBJ was a great American. He was great at negotiating deals that no one previously thought possible. He had an ambition that was uncommon and could execute maneuvers that no one anticipated. His biographer, Robert Caro called Lyndon B. Johnson the "most effective" Senate majority leader; then LBJ became President. 

Our generation's LBJ should follow in the footsteps of his antecedent. Negotiate hard; follow ambition; surprise everyone. Go back to Cleveland. Hell, fly home on Dan Gilbert's jet.

If this happens, it is not just a "fun" NBA story: this is the stuff of Shakespeare. Remember that play about the indecisive boy king who wrestled with inner doubt and didn't handle confrontation very well? The boy king who had some knucklehead friends (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern) with questionable motives who helped him come up with the TERRIBLE idea to stage a play (The Original Decision!) in an attempt to further his agenda. In order to not follow in the fateful footsteps of Hamlet (CliffsNotes: Death, by poison, twice), Prince LeBron should make the bold move that Hamlet never could: return home and reclaim his rightful throne in Cleveland.

(Hint: if you missed the Hamlet allegory, just envision LeBron as Simba. Pride Rock and Mufasa are Cleveland; his time in the Jungle is South Beach; Wade is Pumba and Bosh is Timone). 

Next up: Carmelo. First of all, great work so far: keep waiting for LeBron to decide if he wants to be the tragic hero or just the hero. Then sign with the Chicago Bulls.

Let Phil Jackson meditate in New York and continue to edit his next book: Zen and the Art of a Floundering Basketball Franchise. Smart basketball fans get it: Melo is a transcendent scorer. He won a national championship at Syracuse with Jim Boeheim and a Gold Medal with Coach K. In other words, when an adult holds the clipboard, Melo wins. 

By all accounts, Tom Thibodeau is a man coaching in a boy's league with the likes of Fred Kidd. Joakim Noah describes Thibs: "It's Game 7 all of the time. It's Game 7 in practice, it's Game 7 in shoot-around, it's Game 7 in the meeting, it's Game 7 when he calls you at 10 o'clock at night, it's always Game 7." Raise your hand if you think Mike Woodson has ever called Melo at 10 o'clock to chat. Go to Chicago; pick an allegorical jersey number that alludes to Michael Jordan (45 maybe); win a championship; become beloved. 

Chris Bosh is The Most Interesting Man in the NBA. And, he deserves to get paid, no matter what Pat Riley says. Make Zach Lowe a prophet and reject the false dichotomy between winning and cashing massive checks. Bosh should sign with the Dallas Mavericks (or the Houston Rockets, but I prefer Dallas). The Mavs can resign Vince Carter and still offer Bosh $15.5 million dollars this season. Win and get paid. The Mavs got closer than anyone else at beating the Matrix in the playoffs last season. Add Bosh and they can contend for a Championship, even in the West. 

The Lakers are the Evil Empire of Basketball and Lance Stephenson, for better and worse, is the next great villain. He is the Ear Whisperer and the King Slayer of the NBA. The only reason to stay in the Eastern Conference would be to guarantee four meetings against LeBron per year, instead of two.

Or, better yet, Lance should come to Philadelphia. Sam Hinkie is just crazy enough to do it.