CHICAGO — Just nine months ago, Chicago went through this drill, hopes built after two-plus years of anticipation.
The populace was optimistic and Chicago was even the favorite, by some accounts. But the Second City finished fourth that October day as the International Olympic Committee eliminated Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Games.
This time, it’s one man who will make the decision, and he has no timetable.
The Chicago Bulls have been laying the groundwork for acquiring LeBron James (FSY) and/or another high-profile free agent for a couple of seasons, steadily unloading salary obligations beyond 2009-10.
Followers of the Bulls view James’ decision to hold his meetings with suitors in Ohio as playing to their team’s advantage.
If it’s all about basketball, and not the bright lights of New York or warm weather of Miami, the Bulls might have the most to offer. Last week’s trade of Kirk Hinrich (FSY) gives Chicago almost enough cap room to add James and another high-profile free agent to supplement the young core of Derrick Rose (FSY), Joakim Noah (FSY) and Luol Deng (FSY).
The organization’s courting of Kobe Bryant (FSY) in 2004 could be the blueprint.
Owner Jerry Reinsdorf and general manager John Paxson held a secret meeting with Bryant that summer that nearly convinced the Los Angeles Lakers superstar to force a sign-and-trade deal with the Bulls, The Chicago Tribune reported.
Young talent, a dynamic city and the Michael Jordan legacy are sure to be part of the pitch to James and others now, as well as new coach Tom Thibodeau. The former Boston Celtics assistant is viewed as neutral or better in the pursuit of James, with Thibodeau’s reputation for defense and plan to push the tempo offensively.
Story Continued at USA Today.com
Mike Dodd, USA TODAY