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NEW YORK A word of caution to anyone anointing the Cleveland Cavaliers as the NBA favorites.
So if Cleveland's a favorite, it may only be a sentimental one, for those wanting to see James lead his home team to a title that has eluded the city in all major sports for 50 years.
to key pieces from their up and coming squads. Brooklyn believes it has another year to contend if Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett stick around, and the Knicks have been telling Carmelo Anthony they expect to be better if he returns.
And an NBA championship is surely no guarantee, not with the San Antonio Spurs possibly even stronger than the powerhouse that rolled through James and the Heat in the NBA Finals. The Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers are potent, and the Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers don't look far away.
to do the same, setting up the potential for a wide open Eastern Conference race that didn't exist while the Heat ruled it since 2011.
"We have to pull for the Cavaliers now," Charles Barkley said on NBA TV. "We have to pull for that team."
"LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Nike Roshe One Flyknit Premium Black
But in the hours after James announced he was trading Biscayne Bay for Lake Erie, it was hard not to get excited about the Cavs' possibilities.
Some Nike Air Max Flyknit Red will, but it's going to be a challenge.
Cleveland won't even be a sure thing within its own division where Bird's Indiana Pacers and the Chicago Bulls have veteran squads that have played together for years.
There's potential there. Irving was the MVP of the All Star game last year, and Wiggins was the No. 1 pick in the draft. The Cavs' roster features a fourth No. 1 pick, Anthony Bennett, who struggled badly as a rookie last season but should benefit from a full offseason after he was sidelined while recovering from shoulder surgery last summer.
The other team with them is the Spurs, who got Duncan to return and re signed coach Gregg Popovich and key players Boris Diaw and Patty Mills to multiyear deals. If they can get Pau Gasol, who tweeted Friday that he's close to deciding on a team, it's hard to envision much drop off from last season's 62 victories.
With James return home power shifts in the East
And the battle should be very entertaining: James vs. the likes of Pat Riley, Phil Jackson and Larry Bird.
Yes, the Cavaliers are going to be good, no doubt. It's impossible not to be with the game's best player. But even LeBron James knows Cleveland has a lot of work to do.
Even James' old team could remain formidable with Chris Bosh sticking around and Dwyane Wade expected Nike Flyknit Pink And Blue
While the player dominos continue to fall in place during free agency, James' decision has leveled the playing field even more in the up for grabs Eastern Conference.
It was those models that forced James to leave home in the first place, realizing he needed the help he found with Wade and Bosh. He boasted of "not two, not three, not four ." titles upon his arrival, though he abandoned that chase to return to Ohio.
But potential has gotten many coaches fired.
His Lakers tussled with one of the best, the Celtics with Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. Boston later had another championship trio with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, and the Spurs' core of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili is the winningest postseason trio of them all.
Andrew Wiggins have the potential to be a great 'Big 3,'" Hall of Famer Magic Johnson wrote on Twitter.
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