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Bulls a likely entrant in LeBron sweepstakes

by Peter Vecsey

NEW YORK — Big ups to the Cavaliers, who came into New York and rode roughshod over it . . . you know, like Bloomberg.

As usual, the Knicks’ sorry showing against the Cavs provokes the same old question:

Why would LeBron James want to join forces with this motley crew’s skeleton remains (with apologies to Eddy Curry) if he’s aiming for a championship?

Well, let’s get two things straight at the top:

Foremost, one of LeBron closest confidants, in response to those who mocked my disclosure Cavs chairman Dan Gilbert is terrified his meal ticket will abscond should the team not win a title, declared to friends, “They (Dan and his entourage; young owners have them, too) better be scared!”

Secondly, the Knicks are not the lone team LeBron will consider when he becomes an unrestricted free agent come July 1. Despite people’s sarcastic opinion of the Nets, go to sleep on them being a real contender for his simonized services.

Clearly, the Newark, er, Brooklyn-bound franchise flaunts and gobs more promising personnel than the Knicks, many who must be renounced (David Lee, Al Harrington, Chris Duhon, Larry Hughes and Nate Robinson can kiss their “Bird rights” bye-bye) in order to get James.

What’s more, according to someone in the know, LeBron is viewing the Bulls as a wild-card challenger; no other suitors need apply.

That explains why rising restricted free agent Tyrus Thomas, who suffered a forearm fracture in the weight room Friday that required surgery (out six weeks minimum), wasn’t given an extension.

Chicago definitely believes it has a shot at luring LeBron. As talented as Thomas is, the Bulls secured two excellent rookie forwards — Brooklyn’s Taj Jami Gibson and James Johnson — in the draft and figure to have roughly $20 million in cap room in case LeBron feels the urge to replicate Air Jordan’s Windy City flight plan.

As for the Knicks, guaranteed I could find 11 above-average NBA players who would love to play for the veteran’s minimum or thereabouts (one would command a maximum mid-level exception contract) for the opportunity to suit up alongside LeBron in New York the first year.

When Curry and Jared Jeffries come off the cap the summer of 2011, the Knicks would then be able to recruit another certified stud or two and would actually be in possession of their own first-round draft pick.

To those who don’t believe one word of the above or that LeBron would ever leave his home state of Ohio, I say, hide and watch.

Afterthought: It’s staggering to think the fate of two franchises — Cleveland and ? — and the hopes of millions comes down to the decision of a 24-year-old?

Where does LeBron want to live in 2010?

We ask these kids questions and hang on their answers as if they came down from the mountain on a tablet. I cringe at the bad decisions I made at that age.

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Joe Johnson voiced displeasure at his teammates’ selfish, non-role playing ways of late — even in victories at Portland and Sacramento — following Friday night’s loss to the Bobcats in Charlotte on the last leg of a four-game journey.

Evidently, they paid strict attention to their leader as the Hawks mauled the Kenyon Martin-less Nuggets, 125-100.

Josh Smith was stupendous!

His multi-dimensional talent was responsible for 22 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and six blocked shots.

Better yet, Smith committed a total of one turnover and didn’t attempt a single 3-pointer. When that happens you know it’s all good. Clearly, he’s paying strict attention to coach Mike Woodson.

* * * * *

It was bad news for the Grizzlies on Friday night at the Office Supply Center. They lost by 16 to the Lakers after playing them even for a half.

Given permission by Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley to take an indefinite leave of absence, Allen Iverson left the team before Saturday night’s game against my Paper Clips. The feeling is, he’s done . . . playing for Memphis and probably in the NBA as well.

A.I. is incapable of toning it down. One speed and it’s not as a part-timer. Nobody wanted him this summer and he was practically begging for a job, pushing it on Twitter.

Finally, Heisley brought him in, thinking he would sell tickets. Don’t know of any spare parts that alluring.

Upon signing a one-year, $3 million contract Iverson proclaimed, “This is where God wanted me to be.”

At least for a couple weeks or so.

Truth is, both Heisley and Iverson would’ve been better served had Allen been hired as a greeter, a la Joe Louis.

The scary part is, I relate to Iverson. He’s not changing, not compromising, not on your life.

No doubt A.I. will have an easy transition into the real world once he’s officially done . . . just like Mike Tyson did.

Peter Vecsey cover the NBAfor the New York Post.