In order to join the Miami Heat and their big three project, LeBron James gave up a lot of money during his first “decision“. This time, with a chance to opt out of his contract at the end of the 2013-2014 NBA Season, it might be a little bit more difficult to predict what the MVP will decide, and where he’ll end up after next summer.
Will there be a Decision 2.0? Probably not. James was bitterly stung by the media backlash to his circus and vanity, which was pushed by ESPN who later decided to make him public enemy number one, sweeping basketball fans and people who didn’t even care about it in a year of hatred and wanting him to lose all of a sudden. People in Ohio? They actually had a right to be angry, but they’d love to have him back.
James has an early termination option coming up after this season, and will give up on $42.6 million if he decided to opt out of his deal. However, he can make up for that if he re-signs with the Heat, who can give him a $115.3 million deal over five years. If he does leave them, the best he can get is four years, $85.6 million. That’s $30 million in total he’d be giving up, and the season’s average between salaries would be $1.7 million.
But it’s not just about money, obviously. Maybe mostly not. The deciding factor will be how long the Heat can give James the support to win the NBA title? Dwyane Wade isn’t getting any young or better. Chris Bosh seems to be doing just fine in a role that doesn’t require him to be a number two scorer on the team – just do whatever it is that’s necessary. He’s being paid top dollar for that, but very few All-Star caliber players would be willing to take on such a role.
The Heat have amnestied Mike Miller, and won’t have the cap space to make significant additions to the roster – only what we’re seeing now. Chris Andersen from last season, Greg Oden this time. Maybe Michael Beasley as well. The Heat have a better drawing power than anyone when it comes to minimum contract, because of the two NBA titles they’ve won.
James is leading a loaded free agency class that includes Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant, but while his is the biggest name, he might be the least likely to switch teams. James has proven he will give up money in order to win titles, and if remaining on $20 million only instead of option out for a maximum contract is what gives the Heat some sort of edge after next season, he’ll do it.
If the Miami Heat challenge once again, let alone win the NBA title, it’s hard to believe the trio and this project will be broken up. James is about winning NBA titles, wanting to be remembered as someone with enough rings to cover fingers on more than one hand. That’s the goal, and a few million here and there getting away, while there’s so much money (around $60 million a year) coming from outside basketball, are worth it when the bottom line is remaining a champion.