SportsBytes #3.4 - LeBron not a Piston

Just one topic this week, but it’s a biggie.

The Pistons acquired Allen Iverson on Monday, and that freed up lots of future cap room for them. That cap room has led some columnists to speculate that the Pistons are positioning themselves for a run at LeBron James in the summer of 2010.

First off, all this LeBron in 2010 speculation assumes that LeBron will opt out of the final year of his contract. That’s a lot of money to leave on the table, but he’ll do it for a new long term deal.

As for the Pistons, after the Iverson trade and the Rip Hamilton contract extension, the Pistons only have about $25 million in salary dedicated for 2010-11. They’ll probably have to extend Rodney Stuckey, but that shouldn’t take too much out of their cap room.

OK, so the Pistons can, financially, make a run at LeBron. Never... Gonna... Happen...

IF LeBron wants to leave Cleveland (and that’s still in the “if” category) he’ll want 2 things: a championship contender, and a major market. Detroit is moving in the wrong direction in the championship category. They keep going to the conference championship and keep losing to teams with superstars. LeBron already plays on a team with complementary players. He wants to play with another superstar (say a Kobe, or someone who would join him on the Knicks).

As for a major market, Detroit, despite the population, isn’t one of them. It’s the 11th-largest city in the country, but it’s not a media market on the level of New York or L.A.

One last thing. Under the current NBA CBA (which may not matter by 2010), Cleveland can offer more years and money than any other team. If LeBron is dead-set on leaving, the Cavs can try to work a sign-and-trade with the team he’s going to. There is NO chance of Cleveland and Detroit doing a sign-and-trade. ZERO. They hate each other. That’d be like the Red Sox and Yankees working out a Papi-for-ARod trade. Never... Gonna... Happen...