It's pretty much a done deal. Russia's richest man, Mikhail Prokhorov, is going to buy an 80% controlling interest in the New Jersey… soon to be Brooklyn… Nets.
Suddenly… the "It makes the most sense for LeBron to stay in Cleveland" thing might not apply as much as it used to.
The guy is worth $9.5 billion… so I doubt there will be any luxury tax issues when 2010 rolls around. You can build a team around the guy. And LeBron is out there whoring himself out all over the place… so the opportunity to become ubiquitous in the Russian marketplace might be too tempting for LBJ.
This is a man with the stated goal of being a billionaire. Forget raising his profile by going to New York. New York is secondary here. The fact that this Russian playboy can throw his weight behind the LeBron brand is bigger than anything else that has been in this equation until now. The NBA and China already have a huge relationship. That doesn't exist yet in Russia. I'm sure David Stern wouldn't mind his biggest star… and potentially one of the greatest players of all time… leading the charge into a new, lucrative market.
So the NBA and LeBron would both win in this scenario. And this doesn't even get into the fact that a gigantic media market would have a second team to call its own.
All of a sudden, a LeBron jump to the Nets makes sense. Sorry Cleveland. You'd better hope you win it all this year.