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"The most popular off-court topic in the NBA these days: [LeBron James's] future when his contract expires in 2010.... Currently there are 18 teams in position to offer James... a maximum contract in July 2010."
JULY 1, 2010, MIDNIGHT
HELLO, AND welcome to a special edition of The LeBron Watch: Free-Agent Apocalypse, now broadcasting for the 456th consecutive day. I'm Chuck Hightower, and I'm coming to you live at the stroke of 12 from this specially constructed set in the living room of Knicks general manager Donnie Walsh. Hi, Donnie!
"Hello, Chuck. Mind the armoire."
"Sure. Now, as you can see by the giant flashing clock I'm sitting on, LeBron's contract has been up for 27 seconds. Let's go to our NBA insider, Jimmy Jensen. JJ, what are you hearing?"
"Well, Chuck, as you know there are now 29 teams in the running for King James after the Lakers renounced their rights to Kobe Bryant yesterday. Most have more than $50 million in salary-cap space available for LeBron and any other new teammates he requests. The Nets, for example, have four players on their active roster, and one of those is player-coach Lawrence Frank, who drew only a ceremonial $1 salary last season, when he had a record 98.6% of his shots blocked. And... hold on a second."
"What is it, JJ?"
"Chuck, I'm getting word from my sources that Pistons general manager Joe Dumars has not only offered the maximum five-year, $102 million to the Cavaliers' star but his own job as well. The first player-G.M.!"
"My goodness. That is remarkable. For reaction, let's go to Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld, who's on line two. Ernie, how can you possibly match that?"
"Actually, we can do one better, Chuck. Moments ago we offered LeBron max money and a new post in Obama's cabinet ... Secretary of Defense, Help-Side."