October 18, 2012 | 4:32pm
LeBron James is only guaranteed to be a member of the Miami Heat for the next two seasons -- after that, he's got two year of player option left on his contract. So, of course today brought us a dramatic ESPN report that the Los Angeles Lakers are getting ready to lure James to Tinseltown in 2014 to replace Kobe Bryant.
Don't be too worried: it's the kind of speculative reporting that aims to draw attention to itself and create controversy and buzz rather than being based in any concrete fact.
Apparently ESPN's Brian Windhorst seized
on a recent Kobe Bryant quote in which he said he may only play two more years of basketball. He then realized LeBron's player's option comes up in two years, and then dug around to come up with this:
Opposing executives think (the Lakers will go after Lebron). As teams continue their long-range planning and work up opposition strategies, the Lakers remain just as much a threat in the transaction game as they are on the court.
Several teams' executives have told ESPN.com they believe the Lakers are positioning themselves to make a run at LeBron James in 2014, when the Miami Heat star can choose to become a free agent.
What we're left with here is rampant speculation and opinions from unnamed sources. None of those sources actually come from with in the Lakers camp, nor from LeBron's circle.
Do we think James will play the rest of his career in Miami? Well, we're not holding our breath. We know by virtue of how he arrived here he's not exactly the most loyal basketball player. He thinks more about his worldwide appeal and legacy of championships more than he thinks about the fans in whatever city he happens to be playing in.
We'd be surprised if he actually became Miami's next Dan Marino-like figure (that's Dwyane Wade's fate anyway, if he should choose to accept it).
But as long as LeBron is confident he can win championships in Miami, he'd probably elect to stay here rather than risk another highly criticized season as he attempts to gel with a new team. Though, tellingly, both Wade and Chris Bosh also have player options coming up in 2014. Lets hope this team remains championship quality through the 2013-14 season and sticks together afterward.