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It's a summer of Love for NBA hopefuls

Last Modified: Tuesday, July 01, 2014 12:49 PM

By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

So it begins again, the chase for LeBron.

It officially starts today, as the free agent season opens in the NBA.

Of course it actually began a few days back when LeBron James opted out of his final year in Miami.

That made him a marked man for the second time in five summers.

Let’s hope there is no big television special this time when James decides which city is lucky enough to get his talents.

Most likely James isn’t going anywhere.

He likes South Beach and Miami has been good to him. Four straight trips to the NBA Finals with a pair of championships means more to him than anything else.

Money isn’t really an object either. He makes more off the court than on so the contract won’t decide where he is going.

Truth is, Dwyane Wade would have never left some $42 million on the table if he didn’t believe James was heading back to the Heat.

James hasn’t even been taking calls from other teams so while it might sound nice that the Houston Rockets want him it isn’t realistic.

Same is staying put unless something comes up when he talks to Miami team president Pat Riley.

The rest will be just made up drama.

That means the spotlight is focused on really just one guy, Carmelo Anthony.

The former Knicks scoring machine is the only real prize free agent out there. He could be a franchise maker if he picks the right place.

Anthony has set up four interviews that we know of, starting in Chicago and ending in Los Angeles with the Lakers.

In between he will stop in both Dallas and Houston.

Anthony claims it is all about winning and not the money. We will see.

Chicago gives him the best chance at winning right away. A much weaker Eastern Conference is the biggest of reasons, a healthy Derrick Rose would be the other.

One is a given, one is not.

Anthony to Houston would be fun, but there is but one basketball and James Harden likes having it in his hands, and launching it from all angles and distances.

That makes the Rockets a long shot if Anthony wants to be the man.

Dallas would be a nice fit but is still the third best team in the state of Texas. Anthony doesn’t really change that fact and thus the Mavericks are not even close to being an elite Western Conference club.

That leaves only the Lakers on this so far short list.

Kobe Bryant and Anthony on the same side, that peace won’t last long unless the league decides to add a second basketball to each game for scoring purposes.

If Anthony is about the money then he will likely head back to New York, where he can be a big fish in the biggest of ponds but one without a ring.

Interestingly enough, the one place both James and Anthony could go together and play for an young team with much hope is Phoenix. The Suns won 48 games last year, had a good draft and solid talent to surround the duo.

Phoenix is a great place to spent a winter and has more salary cap dollars to spend than just about anybody else in the league.

Still, James is staying and Melo is, well, going to do what is best for Melo.

There is one side drama to this summer and it is Kevin Love.

The summer of Love continues as teams look to trade for the unhappy Minnesota power forward.

If Love goes to a team first, he could lock out Anthony and thus limit his options.

Most teams would rather have the younger, bigger and still cheaper Love to build around.

None of this likely matters if the San Antonio Spurs stay healthy. They will still be the team to beat next year if that happens.

The Spurs just don’t get caught up in all the noise. They leave that to those chasing them.

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