Is there anyone who can step into the shoes of Kobe Bryant once he retires and leaves a huge hole for the Los Angeles Lakers? Beyond abilities, and talking about marketability, than LeBron James of the Miami Heat is the obvious answer.

Not just because James is the best basketball player in the world; it’s because he’s just a big of a star as Kobe Bryant, popular or hated. He sells tickets, he sells jerseys, he’s the biggest star in the NBA, and if there’s on thing they love about their teams in Los Angeles, besides the success part, is having expensive stars playing for them.

How did this, well, rumor came to be? Not sure, but it seems like someone looked at LeBron James’ expiring contract (opt out in 2014) and Kobe Bryant’s expiring contract (2014), plus the hints that he might retire after the next two seasons, and came up with the notion.

Lebron James: That story, I don’t know where it came from, but I understand why it came up because of who I am. But I’m not going to worry about it. I’ve got to continue to stay focused with these guys and make sure we’re ready for any challenges that come.

We’ve already been through the woes of the Lakers salary caps, which limit them in their possibilities next summer besides re-signing Dwight Howard, but at the moment, Steve Nash is the only player signed on for 2014, with a $9.7 million salary. Dwight Howard, if he’ll re-sign in 2013, will be making about $20 million. The rest? Clear. A team that’ll be thriving for stars, especially if Bryant says goodbye to the game, and usually gets the start it wants, will probably be gunning for James, full steam ahead.

Reality? You never know. A lot of it depends on the situation Kobe Bryant will be in. If he wins two NBA titles the next two seasons, he’ll retire for sure, no matter how much he’ll be a factor in them. If he won’t win those titles, it’s pretty much up to his physical state and his ability on the floor. If he’s still a major offensive factor, he’ll stay in the game. Not for the money he earned on his last contract for the Lakers, maybe not even on the Lakers, but if he feels he can be a starting player still playing at an All-Star level two years from now, we’ll see him in the NBA.

As for James, promises mean nothing, so he promises nothing. Just focusing right now on what he can do with the Miami Heat, which at the moment is adding a second NBA title ring to his finger.

I’m here, and this is what it’s all about. I’m preparing for this season, preparing to defend our title and that’s it. This league, this sport, is about doing what’s best for you. If the situation at the end of the 2013-2014 season makes sense for LeBron James to opt out of his contract (needs to stay two more years) and leave the Miami Heat, he’ll do it. But it probably won’t be about money, like it wasn’t with the Heat. It’ll be about playing for the team with the best chance of winning another championship, and a place he can play alongside a star friend or two.

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