Morning Jolt: LeBron James Leaning Toward Joining Heat

Word is he'll form powerful trio with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    CLEVELAND - APRIL 27: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts a after being fouled and making the shot while playing the Chicago Bulls in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on April 27, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland won the game 96-94 to win the series 4-1. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** LeBron James

    New Yorkers have been complaining about the heat all week. They're going to be complaining about the Heat for years.

    Chris Broussard of ESPN and Alan Hahn of Newsday are both reporting that LeBron James is leaning toward signing with the Miami Heat as a free agent. Barring a late change of heart, that means he'd be joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in a trio that instantly makes the Heat title contenders, instantly makes the fickle Pat Riley realize he loves coaching again and instantly destroys the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    There will be plenty of time for discussion of legacies and wise choices if and when this comes to fruition, save one thought. Such a scenario would also guarantee James turns his shot to do anything he wants in the NBA into a chance to play a latter-day Scottie Pippen in front of a fanbase that could care less for less money than he would get in any other place. We were obviously wrong to think that he was being the least bit disingenuous when he said winning mattered to him because it clearly does and damn everything else.

    It will certainly be an interesting experiment. The Heat will have to fill out their roster with minimum salary guys. You'll hear some talk of vets leaving cash on the table to make a title run but most NBA players aren't as financially set as the Big Three of the Heat and can't make that kind of sacrifice.

    This news is, obviously, a crushing blow to a lot of Knicks fans who closed business Wednesday feeling hopeful about their chances of landing the biggest star on the planet, not to mention a lot of speculators who snapped up MSG stock in hopes of making a payday of their own when James tugged on a Knicks jersey at some point in the next few days. Broussard still mentions the Knicks as a destination should James have a change of heart, but he otherwise paints Cleveland as the likeliest other choice if something falls through with the Miami deal.

    We're not hopeful, especially not with Riley involved. History has shown he'll do anything he can to screw the Knicks. Let's just hope they find a way to knock off a few of his overrated teams in the first round of the playoffs soon.

    Hahn reports that the Knicks will likely move forward with a sign-and-trade involving David Lee once the James decision is out of the way. He mentions a deal with the Warriors that would land the Knicks shot-blocking forward Anthony Randolph, wing player Kelenna Azubuike and backup center Ronny Turiaf. There's also been talk of a deal involving Warriors guard Monta Ellis and the Knicks would really need to start moving on a point guard. Free agents Raymond Felton and Luke Ridnour are both mentioned quite often with Ridnour seeming like the best fit for the Mike D'Antoni system. 

    All of that had to wait until James made his decision. One way or another that comes tonight and then the NBA and the Knicks can begin to react to what looks to be a seismic shift in the league's balance of power.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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