The 2010 NBA offseason was a historical one as LeBron James made the infamous "Decision" as part of the deepest and most star-laden free-agency class of all-time. Four seasons later, the 2014 offseason is set to one-up 2010 thanks to more impending free-agency decisions, one of the deepest draft classes ever and the FIBA World Cup.
Sports Illustrated looked at who the 14 Power Players --those who could make the biggest splashes next season -- for 2014 and why their decisions or new destinations will affect the landscape of the NBA for years to come. Here are a few relevant names that relate to the Bulls:
LeBron James, forward, Miami Heat: This is the obvious one. The back-to-back NBA champion, MVP and Finals MVP has an early opt-out clause in his contract and will become a free agent once again after this season. Early contenders for his services include the Heat, Lakers and Cavaliers, while it wouldn't be out of the question for the Bulls to once again pursue the greatest player in the game -- they'd have to move around some pieces, but the money could work.
Dan Gilbert, owner, Cleveland Cavaliers: Everyone remembers the Comic Sans letter Gilbert wrote to James on the Cavaliers' website. While that didn't work out too well, it's worth noting that the Cavaliers have put themselves in excellent position to pursue King James next offseason. They have just $34 million on the salary-cap books next season, and one of those players is Kyrie Irving, a bona fide superstar who could play second fiddle to James, much like Dwyane Wade has done the last three-plus years. If Gilbert can convince James to return home, the Cavaliers all of a sudden become both one of the best and youngest teams in the NBA.
Andrew Wiggins, freshman wing, Kansas: The upcoming draft class truly could rival 2003 as the best crop of young talent ever, and at the head of that class is Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins. The top preps player in the country last year, and dubbed by some as the best NBA prospect since Kevin Durant, has teams "tanking" their 2013 seasons in order to have a shot at the future All-Star. The season is still incredibly young, but the Milwaukee Bucks will likely be somewhere in the NBA Lottery by season's end, meaning they'll have an outside shot at selecting Wiggins or, at the very worst, a high-impact player in the first 14 selections of the draft.
Paul Pierce, forward, Brooklyn Nets: It appears that Luol Deng is headed for free agency after this season, which will leave a void in Chicago at small forward. While Jimmy Butler may wind up shifting over, or current rookie Tony Snell could enter the lineup, another feasible option is signing Pierce, who will be an unrestricted free agent next summer. A proven winner and still someone who can put up 20+ points on any given night, he wouldn't be a bad fit in Chicago if Deng's desired contract is out of the Bulls' price range.
You can read all 14 of Sports Illustrated's Power Players here.