For the past few days, the big talk in Piston Land is about Allen Iverson. Today or maybe even the next few days, the new talk generating from the trade is the free agent market, when Lebron James and Chris Bosh are free to explore their options. Logical reasoning tells us, that a championship team with flexible cap salary is the most probable place to be. That puts Detroit to one of the elite choices when they hit free agency.
There was a definitive declaration about the future earlier this week from LeBron James. You probably just haven't heard about it yet. The official decree from King James: "22, 10 and 10." That's how LeBron replied when someone in Dallas asked him what his ideal, every-night line in the box score would be. I think I can safely predict the response, too: All of the fans in all of the cities whose teams fantasize about signing James away from the Cleveland Cavaliers in the summer of 2010 will inevitably seize on the fact that LeBron didn't specify where he dreams of racking up all those triple-doubles. Of course, even had he pronounced himself a Cav For Life in the same sentence, who outside of Ohio would hear him? No. 23 could clearly state his intentions to stay with his home-state team -- and he pretty much did in October at a Barack Obama rally when no one was expecting it -- and it wouldn't discourage anyone in the basketball mecca of New York … or the Nike capital of Portland, Ore. … or now Detroit.
The line for LeBron, as you've undoubtedly heard by now, got one team longer this week when the Pistons traded for Allen Iverson and a huge chunk of financial flexibility that might just hold up until July 2010. If the cash does stay stashed that long, Detroit won't merely try to sign James, either. We're sittin' here talkin' about Joe Dumars, so trust us: If the Pistons' uber-aggressive president can keep enough cap space to afford two max players in 2010, I'm reasonably sure that his A-1 scenario would be trying to sign James and Chris Bosh.
No fewer than 15 teams -- including the Cavs -- have less than $40 million in committed salaries on their books for the 2010-11 season, hoarding cap space for a free-agent class so deep that we don't even talk about Amare Stoudemire, Dirk Nowitzki and early Eastern Conference player of the month favorite Joe Johnson. Among those teams are Chicago, Houston, Miami, Phoenix, Portland and Bosh's Toronto Raptors. I also fully expect the likes of San Antonio and Dallas to be major bidders by the time LeBron and Co. hit the open market, which is to say that the Pistons, between now and the NBA's Free Agent Frenzy of 2010, won't be the last team to be mentioned as a new threat to steal LeBron away from Cleveland. Far from it.