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Fear and LeBroning In Las Vegas

No matter where you are, LeBron James and his gravitational pull will find you. (Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)

The biggest news in the NBA of late has been LeBron James choosing to go back to Cleveland.

The most impactful news, in terms of the sheer ripple effects across multiple franchises, was Chris Bosh shocking basically everybody and returning to Miami even after LeBron took his talents from South Beach. After the James announcement, the dominoes seemed lined up in sensible order. Bosh to the Rockets, who have created space by consummating deals to move Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin’s balloon contracts. They then match the Chandler Parsons offer sheet and away we go.

Houston certainly operated under the assumption that Bosh was on his way, jumping the gun on and paying the Lakers a future first to take on Lin. In fact, the “Bosh goes home to Houston” narrative was so locked in that teams began making discrete inquiries to Dwyane Wade. After all, if James AND Bosh left why should Wade necessarily stay? I mean aside from stacks on stacks of lucre. (Oh, just that.)

Especially with the dispassionate, Michael Corleone-like way in which James did not inform Wade of his decision (“my information to you is this: nothing.”), might not a revenge-motivated Wade consider a move to a contender to embrace a Ginobili-esque role as an impact sub? Certainly, the notion of a pissed-off Wade flying off the bench for Chicago (or Oklahoma City, or Memphis) for 25 energetic minutes per game had to merit a conversation.

That all lasted about 90 minutes until we were Woj-Bombed back into reality. Bosh decided to take the extra $30 or so million he could receive by staying in Miami because of course he would when you put it that way.

Suddenly all those carefully laid plans were smashed to bits. General chaos ensued. We’re still seeing aftershocks throughout the league, with the latest as of this writing being Trevor Ariza signing for 4 years/$32 million in Houston. Obviously if the Rockets had Bosh on board, this doesn’t happen.  Washington probably retains Ariza’s services. Now the Wizards are going after Luol Deng [Ed. note: And have since reportedly come to terms with Paul Pierce]If first Ariza and then Deng are off the board, who does Miami turn to?

And amid all this chaos, there was Memphis’ thievery of Vince Carter from the Mavs. Dallas had to watch idly, what with their cap space occupied by the offer sheet to Parsons — another ripple caused by Bosh’s splash.  The Lakers followed up taking on Lin by giving Jordan Hill too much money and Nick Young too many years. Phoenix robbed Sacramento blind for Isaiah Thomas.

Sitting on press row, it seemed like a new round of fireworks went off every dozen minutes with groupings of reporters, bloggers and columnists interrupting conversations to check buzzing phones. Frequent exclamations of “WHAT??!?!?!” were the norm. During it all, something resembling actual basketball was played, but until the much anticipated Andrew Wiggins/Jabari Parker throwdown, attention was decidedly not focused on the court.

Even when that contest started, it was still all about the free agent moves. Conversations included rampant speculation as the whether Wiggins would even suit up. Perhaps it would be learned he “rolled an ankle” yesterday in a workout? A cover story no one would have bought as Kevin Love-joins-LeBron ledes would have been written and re-written in anticipation of a Wiggins-for-Love swap which makes far too much sense for both franchises to ever happen.

James’ return already seemed to pay dividends in terms of fan support, as the packed house for the showcase was decidedly pro-Cleveland, though maybe they were just Vegas locals who were became so attached to one-year UNLV Rebel Anthony Bennett they turned out in force wearing wine and gold replicas.

Starting Friday morning, the feel was palpably different. Somehow, over the space of around 6 hours, everything that was going to happen over this phase of the NBA offseason happened. Everything to come after is just the distribution of energy from that initial explosion, settling into the gravitational pull of Planet LeBron.

Seth Partnow

Seth Partnow lives in Anchorage, Alaska. He writes about basketball at the Washington Post's #FancyStats Blog, TrueHoop Network's ClipperBlog and his own website Where Offense Happens.