There wasn’t a whole lot of surprise factor to LeBron James deciding to opt out of his contract with the Miami Heat and hit free agency. In fact, it was the only logical move him, whether he’d like to stay on the team and keep it competitive, or if he’s actually looking for other options, as every team in the NBA is trying to figure out how they can make room for him.
James opted out of two more years he had on his deal with the Heat. The reason? So far it remains with him, but by adding the facts together, two conclusions can be drawn. So far, two people, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who are related to this decision, haven’t said what they’re planning. They have the same option – opting out of this deal, and the early hypothesis suggests that whatever James does, the duo will follow.
So is James leaving or going? It seems that remaining a Miami Heat player is still the more likely outcome. James known that with him, Wade and Bosh making around $20 million each, there’s no way for the Miami Heat to improve. Losing in the NBA Finals in such a humiliating way hurt bad, catching everyone, including Heat players themselves, by surprise. A decision that seemed automatic previously suddenly became a lot more complicated.
The Heat, with the right changes, additions and keeping their Big Three, have a chance at something remarkable. Only one team in NBA history, the Boston Celtics (1957-1966), have made five consecutive NBA Finals. The Heat have made it to four straight (winning two of them), and it’s tempting to try and become only the second group to mark that achievement. But it only happens if James and the other two opt out of their deals, rework their contracts so it opens up some cap space for the Heat to improve and retool.
The Miami Heat didn’t use their mid-level exception last season, instead adding Greg Oden and Michael Beasley through free agency, which didn’t really work out. Other signings: Roger Mason, Toney Douglas, turned out to be of zero consequence while the Heat lost both Mike Miller and Joel Anthony during the offseason. James might be looking for assurances that the owners are willing to bring in new players that will mean something and not just scraps that no one is going to pick up.
Half the league is now waiting to see what comes next. Carmelo Anthony is also a free agent, but James obviously will come ahead of him if he’s looking for more than just flexibility and freedom in his decision making. Teams like the Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and pretty much anyone with the ability to either sign him right now or make moves for him to join will be interested. The Miami Heat need to hope that James of 2014 isn’t the one from 2010, who was looking hard to make a change.