Saturday , Jun , 20 , 2009 Oly Sandor

No conspiracy: LeBron and Yao won’t become teammates in Cleveland

For Yao, the money is, and always be, in Houston. The NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement is designed for teams to retain assets, so the Rockets can offer their 7-6 centre thirty million dollars more in a ‘max’ deal than other teams. The financial sacrifices don’t stop there. Yao, if he exercises his player’s option next July and becomes a free agent, would be leaving the final year of his contract and 17 million dollars on the table. He would also be competing with other big name free agents for money against, in all likelihood, a declining salary cap …


No conspiracy: LeBron and Yao won't become teammates in ClevelandNothing beats a good conspiracy theory, especially when it involves two of basketball’s biggest names. 

Recently, a group of Chinese investors bought a minority stake in the Cleveland Cavaliers. The group, led by businessman JianHua Huang, has made a fortune purchasing American brands and connecting them to lucrative Chinese markets.

The Cavs’ LeBron James, a brand as American as apple pie, needs a co-star after losing the Eastern Conference Finals, so the thinking is Huang, standing by the ‘grassy knoll’,  will somehow engineer a partnership between the reigning MVP and the Rockets’ Chinese post Yao Ming.

It would be best not to get carried away like Oliver Stone and buy into the media hype connecting these All-Stars because a James-Yao duo in Cleveland, or anywhere, is unlikely.

For Yao, the money is, and always be, in Houston. The NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement is designed for teams to retain assets, so the Rockets can offer their 7-6 centre thirty million dollars more in a ‘max’ deal than other teams.

Leaving Texas would require other financial sacrifices. Yao, if he exercises his player’s option next July and becomes a free agent, would be leaving the final year of his contract and 17 million dollars on the table. He would also be competing with other big name free agents for money against, in all likelihood, a declining salary cap.

However, there is talk of an ‘arrangement’: Yao signs for less salary with the Cavs, but makes more in endorsements by leveraging his relationship with the club’s new Chinese owners. Not so fast. According to Forbes Magazine, the former first overall pick is already ’s top celebrity spokesperson and is well established in his home country.

Yao has unfinished business. He contributed to the Rockets ending their playoff slump and, for the first time in years, winning a series against the Blazers. An injury forced him to watch the heartbreaking loss to the eventual world champion Lakers. This year, Yao had a sip of playoff success and likely wants a bigger taste in his adopted home of Houston.

In theory, good players should fit together, but James and Yao seems an odd match. For instance, ‘The King’ doesn’t always feed his current skilled post Zydrunas Ilgauskas, while ‘The Great Wall’ often struggled to find chemistry with All-Star swing Tracy McGrady.

Of course, Yao is an upgrade over Ilgauskas. And James is light years ahead of a broken down and underachieving McGrady. So, if ever paired-up, there is the potential for greatness, but at first glance this duo seems awkward.

The James-Yao conspiracy theory won’t become reality. It’s a hypothetical, something to discuss at the water-cooler or barber shop.

Could James and Yao ever become teammates? Get at us with thoughts in the comment box below and come back to HoopsVibe the Blog for more NBA tidbits. Photo courtesy of Smithpost.