LeBron called Rose after Cavs' elimination
Shortly after Cleveland was eliminated by Boston in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, LeBron James placed a call to Bulls guard Derrick Rose.
What did they talk about?
Word is, James said he likes Rose's game, likes his team and would welcome the chance to play together.
Before putting LeBron's No. 6 Bulls jersey up for sale, keep in mind that it's possible James made similar calls to Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Maybe even Nets center Brook Lopez. But it has been made clear through various channels that James is very interested in joining the Bulls when he becomes a free agent on July 1.
New York, New Jersey and Miami figure to be James' top options, along with re-signing in Cleveland. Staying with the Cavaliers is starting to seem less likely after the early playoff exit exposed flaws in the team's winning formula.
The James phone call to Rose was mentioned by ESPN reporter Scoop Jackson and confirmed by a league source. Rose has been taking things slowly since the Bulls season ended with a first-round loss to Cleveland, but he visits the Berto Center on occasion. The source said the James-Rose conversation did not last very long.
The Bulls will have roughly $20 million in cap room this summer, enough to sign the two-time MVP outright. They're often mentioned as James' best chance to win right away, since he could step into a lineup with Rose, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng.
James will have other attractive options. New York has enough cap room to pair him with another big-time free agent such as Bosh. Miami could offer a unique pairing with all-star Dwyane Wade.
New Jersey probably can't be counted out, either, despite posting the league's worst record last season. The Nets have some good young players and money to spend now that Russian kazillionaire Mikhail Prokhorov owns the team. Plus, one of the Nets co-owners is James' good buddy Jay-Z and the team is supposed to relocate to Brooklyn in two years.
In the meantime, the Bulls' coaching search has slowed down as the team contemplates whether a big-name coach would give them a better chance of landing James.
The biggest prize in coaching is obviously Phil Jackson, whose contract with the Lakers is about to expire. He also figures to stay busy through the end of the NBA Finals.
There is no evidence the Bulls have any interest in Kentucky coach John Calipari or that playing for Calipari would even appeal to James. If the Bulls can't bring back Jackson for a second stint on the bench, former Portland and Philadelphia coach Maurice Cheeks appears to have the best chance at the job.
None of other NBA teams in search of a head coach - Philadelphia, New Orleans, Atlanta and the Clippers - has made a hire.