The state of the association

Staff Writer
The Destin Log

Matt’s Take:

Now that the World Cup is over, everyone can go back to pretending that they don’t like soccer. And to settle the debate, yes, the best team won (Germany), and, no, Lionel Messi wasn’t the tournament’s best player.

With baseball the only other legitimate sport to pass time on a daily basis, I’ve found myself with a keen eye toward the NBA free agency trackers.

I mean, come on, doesn’t everyone care about where Nick “Swaggy P” Young is going to play? He signed a 4-year deal with the Lakers for more than $20 million, if you weren’t paying attention.

Now that the dominoes have mostly fallen on the marquee names — LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, we can only sit back and watch to see where some of the second and third tier players land, which is still fun, mind you.

As a Cleveland, Ohio native, I couldn’t even begin to tell you how stoked I am that James is coming back to the Cavs. Pairing up James, Kyrie Irving and Andrew Wiggins should be a great nucleus. Toss in Kevin Love and the Cavs are serious conference championship contenders and possibly Finals bound in a few seasons.

Honestly, it doesn’t surprise me that Anthony re-upped with the Knicks, as they could offer him the fattest paycheck. But, they are still going to be a terrible team, so there’s nothing to get excited about at Madison Square Garden.

Sure, they lost James and most are calling them “losers,” but the Miami Heat have re-signed Chris Bosh and will more than likely re-sign the aging Dwyane Wade. Add in the recently signed Luol Deng and Miami could still contend.

But this year’s best free agency pickup, outside of James and Anthony, has to come from the Chicago Bulls, who picked up Pau Gasol.

Not bad for a team that already has Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and veteran Mike Dunleavy. The Bulls will compete.

Look for a Oklahoma City and Indiana Pacer NBA Finals.  How’s that for a way too early prediction?

Andrew’s Take:

So have you heard of this guy, LeBron James?

He’s the one who held the NBA hostage.

Any other time, I’d criticize all the speculation. But this is July. All we’ve got is baseball. Any other sports news is welcomed.

And, at the whim of any other player, the basketball world would be annoyed by all the speculation. But it’s like all the other free agents, whose respective professional futures hinged on James’ second “decision,” just became fans.

The world stopped, until Friday, when it happened; Sports Illustrated announced that James was going home.

A lot of people see this at a public relations decision, and I don’t disagree, but James’ return to Cleveland is correct. The city really needed this and so did LeBron.

The Miami Heat were exposed in the Finals and, in all likelihood, Miami’s dynasty was done.

I’m not saying that the Cleveland Cavaliers are the favorites now. Their future just got brighter. They’ve actually got a shot.

The Miami Heat are definitely worse off. They replaced the best player in the world with Luol Deng. I mean, he’s great, but no chance.

You know who’s definitely not the favorite? The New York Knicks. I’m cool with this whole Phil Jackson thing, but I don’t believe in Carmelo Anthony. It’s like the Knicks are committed to mediocrity, or less.

The Chicago Bulls got better, by signing Pau Gasol, but it’s not enough.

I would have said that the Washington Wizards became the team to beat, with the acquisition of Paul Pierce, but they let Trevor Ariza go.

It’s like the Leastern Conference got together, and decided to get crappier, collectively.

In the West, what happened? Jeremy Lin to LA? Not worth talking about.

The only team that could contend for an NBA championship, because of a big, off-season move, is Golden State. When I wrote this (Monday evening), Kevin Love was still in Minnesota. But I think he belongs in Oakland.

I would love to watch that team.