Right now, LeBron 'news' just rumors

June, 28, 2010
6/28/10
11:18
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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Are the Chicago Bulls already out of the running for LeBron James and Chris Bosh?

If you believe FoxSports.com's Stephen A. Smith, then the answer is yes.

Smith went on his radio show and Twitter account this morning and unleashed a free agency bombshell that set the NBA world on its ear. According to his sources, both James and Bosh plan to join Dwyane Wade in Miami and sign with the Heat later this week. Smith reiterated his belief later in the morning on ESPN 1000’s "Waddle & Silvy Show," and sounded quite certain that this was going to happen.

I'm not here to discredit Smith. I've met the man a few times over the years, and he clearly has built up a wide range of NBA sources over the years, but count me among the group that believes James and Bosh aren't ready to make a final decision just yet. Sure, they might be leaning a certain way, and I have no doubt that they've discussed this entire scenario plenty of times over the last couple of years. But I find it extremely hard to believe that they are ready to sign on the dotted line right now and go to South Beach.

[+] EnlargeDwyane Wade
Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty ImagesWill Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh suit up with LeBron James and play for the Heat next season? It's one rumor of many.
I'm sure there's a part of each player, (even Wade, the man who everyone always figured would end up back in Miami either way) that wants to sit down and talk to each team and see what they have to say. See what their plan is for the future and figure out where they could fit into it.

They would be crazy not to do so given all the money and time that's at stake.

I don't put much stock into any report that's come out over the last few days because I don't think anyone knows for certain right now what any of the three men will decide to do, and it's clear that they aren't going to say much from this point forward. The New York Times reported on Sunday that according to a league executive it was a "done deal" that LeBron and Bosh would come to the Bulls. That's just one man's opinion. That's not a fact ... just like Smith's sourced report isn't a fact. For time being, they're just opinions. Informed opinions? Sure. But opinions nonetheless.

While we're on topic of Miami, the dream scenario of having Wade, James and Bosh isn't even possible with the way they're currently constructed. I spoke with resident NBA capologist Larry Coon on Monday morning and after some number crunching he uncovered a few interesting tidbits:

First and foremost, the Heat simply don't have the room right now to sign all three players because of Michael Beasley's contract. In fact, even if they dealt Beasley away and waived James Jones they still wouldn't have enough to offer three max deals. They would be close, but somebody, or all three, would have to play for a few less dollars. The only thing that could help ease Miami in that regard is having Toronto sign Bosh (the third player in this proposed puzzle) and then trade him to Miami for Beasley. I highly doubt the Raptors would go for something like this because of Beasley's checkered past, but it's possible. It also would allow Bosh to sign for more money and that extra year that the Heat wouldn't be able to offer.

Secondly, even if the Bulls trade James Johnson, as many people expect them to, they too would fall just short of being able to able to offer a max deal to Bosh. He would have to take a few less dollars to play in Chicago unless the Bulls could work out a sign-and-trade of their own with the Raptors, which in all likelihood would involve Luol Deng. The Raptors would probably be hesitant to do this deal as well because of Deng's history of injuries and his mega-deal that has four years and over $50 million left on it.

Bulls general manager Gar Forman and Heat president Pat Riley are going to do whatever they can to massage the numbers in their favor, but to say that anything is a sure thing at the moment is a major stretch given all the chaos which continues to surround this process.

In the end, Smith may be right about where James and Bosh end up. He may have outscooped the rest of the free world on the biggest sports story of the year. But for now it's just one more wrinkle in the long and twisted roller coaster known as NBA Free Agency in 2010. Until every player signs his deal, all rumblings should be taken with a grain of salt.

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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