The news broke yesterday and brought with it a tsunami of speculation and sizzling hot takes: LeBron James was opting out of the remainder of his Miami Heat contract. What will his next move be?
LeBron is available to every team in the league come July 1, and every NBA GM in America will look far and wide for any advantage in the race for his services, just like in 2010. But Miami should lap the field, the race shouldn't be close, and LeBron James should be back in a Miami Heat uniform in no time.
If LeBron re-signs with Heat, he can earn $127.7 million over 5 years max. If he signs elsewhere, he can earn $94.8 million over 4 years max
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 24, 2014
1. Money talks, and the Heat has the most to offer.
When you're LeBron James and you plan on being LeBron James for a good many more years, money isn't the biggest factor, because you're gonna be wealthy regardless. While Miami can offer more than $30 million more to James on a max deal, most ignore the fact that the Heat deal would include one more year than any other team can offer him. In four years, who knows what teams will be paying superstar players, so it's likely LeBron would make up the difference in a new deal by then. On the flip side, anything can happen in four years -- just ask Dwyane Wade -- so LeBron's best bet is to take the guaranteed money while he can. After already taking less to make it happen in Miami the first time, is LeBron ready to join a new team for an insane discount?
2. LeBron has all the power and say in Miami. Other places? Who knows.
Everything Miami Heat rides on LeBron James right now, more than some people realize. Pat Riley isn't getting any younger, and he may not want to start over if LeBron chooses to leave. Ray Allen has said if he can't play with LeBron James next year, he's not sure he wants to play at all. When LeBron came to Miami, people asked if it would be his team or Dwyane Wade's, and nobody asks that question anymore. LeBron James is the clear leader in Miami, and everyone else falls in. Will that be the case in Houston with Dwight Howard, in Chicago with Derrick Rose, or Los Angeles with Chris Paul or Kobe Bryant? The other teams can easily fake it on the first date, but Miami has been living with LeBron for four years.
The greatest player on the planet needs to find a team that can help him win....that tells you a lot about #Lebron
— Aaron Besonen (@AaronBesonen) June 24, 2014
3. If you thought the "LeBron had help" narrative was bad before, wait until he skips town again.
LeBron James gets taken to task now for seeking out help to win a title. What will the narrative be like if he does it again? Imagine if LeBron won a title in Houston next year. Many would put an asterisk by it, fair or unfair. Most will call this hypocritical for Heat fans to say, and that's totally fair, but what's not fair is the way the public judges LeBron James. LeBron is just ridding himself of the black cloud that was "The Decision" to take his talents to South Beach -- why put that on himself again? Can you imagine how people would view him if he lost on a second-hand-picked team? Forget Jordan -- he would be lucky if people mention him in the same sentence as Kobe, and he'd still be behind a guy like Wade, rings-wise.
4. Family comes first, unless they come second or third.
Carmelo Anthony spoke to this point recently: It's tough to move your family every few years, especially when young kids are involved. LeBron's wife, Savannah, just opened a business in Miami and is pregnant. James' children just got settled in Miami after their move from Cleveland and are heavily involved in local sports. I doubt moving them again is ideal for the family. All things equal, you know LeBron would rather stay in Miami or go back to Cleveland, and only one of those looks like it's a real option next week.
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5. The Miami Heat organization has proven to LeBron over the past four years that it delivers on its promises.
Of all the reasons LeBron should stay in Miami, familiarity and trust in the organization should be at the top. Pat Riley constantly alluded to this point in his news conference last week, that LeBron James shouldn't need to be sold on what Miami brings to the table because it has already proven what it can do for him. LeBron even said there is nothing the Heat needs to say to him to make him stay. Many things were promised in 2010, and all have been delivered. Every season LeBron has been in Miami has ended in the championship round, and that's something not likely to happen wherever he chooses to go next. L.A., Houston, and Cleveland can make promises and look good tomorrow, but Miami has done it for four years, and there is no reason to believe the Heat can't continue to do it going forward.