With LeBron James back in Cleveland, how will the Wizards fare next year?

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Now that LeBron is back in Cleveland, how will the rest of free agency and the upcoming season shake out in Washington?

In case you haven't been anywhere else on the Internet and your first stop is this article, allow me to be the first to tell you that LeBron James is heading back to Cleveland.

Now, if this is really your first stop on the Internet, then you're likely a diehard Wizards fan, and I thank you for joining me here. But you'll probably want to know: how does LeBron's decision to head back to the shores of Lake Erie impact what the Wizards are trying to do?

First of all, James was the biggest free agent domino to fall. With his decision, all of the rest of the teams and free agents who were waiting on him can get back to their Plan Bs (or more likely, their realistic Plan As). One of those teams is Washington, and one of those free agents is Trevor Ariza. Now, Washington wasn't trying to go after James, but Cleveland was reportedly looking at Ariza as a Plan B. And since he's seeking around $10 million per year, the Cavs no longer have the room to bring him aboard. One fewer destination on the market means the Wizards are likely ramping themselves up again to bring the swingman home. Other destinations--like Miami--might get more aggressive in their recruiting, but it's also likely that Miami would want to save the cap space and enter a rebuilding period.

That brings me to another point: James has left the Heat, which means the Heat will be worse. Last year, the Wizards were the second place team in the Southeast Division. If they're bringing back their most important players, it stands to reason that they'll put up a fight for first place after Miami sinks down the ranks. The Charlotte Hornets will also get better--as will the Atlanta Hawks with a healthy Al Horford. The Orlando Magic are likely at least a year or two a way from being a real threat. But the Wizards look poised to sit atop the perch of the Southeast.

And that brings me to another point: Bob Ryan famously said yesterday if James went back to Cleveland, the Wizards would win the Eastern Conference.

Let that sink in. Process it. Let it simmer. Taste it with a spoon.

OK. Yes, win the Eastern Conference. That's what he said.

Now, if we're assuming that any team LeBron joins would contend for at least the Conference Title if not the NBA Championship, and we've got a rising Wizards team that some (albeit wacky) analysts are predicting will win the East... does that mean we've got a renewed Cavs-Zards rivalry?

So, commenters, answer me these:

  1. Will the Wizards win the Southeast now?
  2. Can the Wizards win the East?
  3. Is Cavs-Wiz rivalry back? Like, for real this time?
  4. Is Amin going to go nuts since he's a Cavs-Wiz fan?
And if homecoming is so great, do the Wizards need one, too?

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