Here we go again. Welcome to Lebronapalooza 2014! LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh all have until June 29th to decide whether or not they will trigger the opt-in years in their contracts, and give this Big Three thing another go at it, and Heat Nation anxiously awaits their decisions. The second biggest off-season in Miami Heat history is under way, and like 2010, it's strike it rich or bust for Miami.
The main difference between this year's free agency and 2010's is the fact that the Miami Heat are the ones with the girl, they are just looking to redo their vows. LeBron James has a plethora of options at his disposal when it comes time to choose his path, this time around however, the team trying to keep him has a proven track record of success with him, not a history of failures and broken promises.
In the upcoming weeks ESPN, Fox Sports 1, NBA Network, OWN, Oxygen, and every other channel on earth will spend spend countless hours speculating about which team LeBron will choose and why. What many will ignore, and this won't shock Heat fans, are facts and/or logic. While some media will have you believe LeBron can just pick any team he chooses to play for, that's not entirely true. The actual pool of teams he can pick is small, and for many of those teams, the logistics of adding James seem almost down right impossible.
Let's take a look at the most mentioned possible destinations for LeBron, and why they just don't make sense.
1. Cleveland's owner is a crazy oompa-loompa who's already publicly bashed LeBron. Also the Cavs really stink.
Other than that time Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert opened a can of Word Pad comic-sans ass on LeBron James, they have a terrific relationship, built upon trust and mutual respect. Chances are at some point an aging-nostalgic-nearing-the-end-of-the-road-shell-of-himself LeBron returns to his home town Cavs before it's all said and done. For those of you just returning from a ten-year walk-about across the Australian Outback, this is not that time, because LeBron James is still really good at basketball.
Besides the fact that the entire city burnt his jerseys and the owner started a Biggie-Tupac beef with him when he left, the team itself is nowhere near contention. Outside of Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers have no proven players to surround LeBron with, and even Irving is an injury-plagued mystery at this point in his career. Listen, LeBron has shocked everyone before, so if he choose to build a team in his hometown with young players, fine. I just have a hard time believing he wants to put hundreds of millions of dollars in the pockets of a man who publicly blasted him and acted like a scorned plantation owner when he left.
2. The New York Knichahahahahaahaha, no.
Seriously, stop it New York, you're the Miami Dolphins of basketball. You have a shot at LeBron James like the Dolphins had a shot at Peyton Manning. Of all the possibilities, this is the least likely one, mainly because to even afford LeBron the Knicks would have to rid themselves of Carmelo Anthony and everyone else worth a damn, plus Amare' Stoudemire. The Knicks coach is Derrick Fisher, who has never coached a game in his life, and was playing for the Thunder last month. That's not an ingredient I've seen included in a any "win-now" recipes posted to my Pinterest. The Knicks are paying $17 million to their coach and Phil Jackson, neither of which have done the job they have next season, so it doesn't seem like the place LeBron would take a $3 million contract to go play.
3. The LA Clippers would require a sign-and-trade, leaving the Clippers at best the fourth best team in the West.
It was reported this week that LeBron James and his wife love Los Angeles, which to me is like saying you LOVE Italian food, so you'd like to work at Olive Garden.
We'll start with the Clippers, who don't have the cap space to sign a free agent LeBron, so would have to work out a sign-and-trade with the Heat. Funny thing about sign-and-trade's is they require a trade, and signatures. The Clippers would have to send the Heat Blake Griffin, first-round picks, expiring contracts, and who knows what else to get a deal done. While this may in theory be possible if LeBron is leaving anyway, it would leave the Clippers bankrupt of talent to compete with the likes of Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Portland, Houston, Memphis, Golden State, well, you get the idea. CP3 and LeBron plus some decent players like DeAndre Jordan would be a favorite in the LeBron-void East, but a fringe contender in the West. Besides all the things I've just mentioned, the team has the black cloud of the Sterling saga still hovering over it, and that doesn't look like it will be settled by June 29th.
4. LeBron to the Lakers? No, because Kobe Bryant exists still.
The next time LeBron James has a decision to make, this might make some sense, but not now, not with Kobe Bryant still wearing a Lakers uniform. The last thing LeBron James needs is Kobe Bryant in his life, the ultimate selfish teammate, the same guy that once told Smush Parker not to talk to him because he hadn't accomplished enough in his life.
The Lakers roster is one of the worst in the NBA outside of Kobe, and with Kobe making a ridiculous $25 million next season, it doesn't seem possible that they could put together a roster to compete in the West unless LeBron decided to take a nice size pay-cut. LeBron and his wife may in fact love LA, but that doesn't mean he wants to work there.
5. LeBron to Chicago? If you thought the MJ comparisons were bad now, imagine them then.
Just what LeBron needs, to chase the shadow of Michael Jordan, in Michael Jordan's house. It sounds like the worst Paranormal Activity movie ever, and that's saying something. The Bulls are looking to revamp their roster, and rumor is everyone outside of Derrick Rose is available, but to pull off a LeBron signing they would need to pull a hell of a lot of strings. Chicago seems to have their eyes on Carmelo Anthony more, who is MUCH better friends with Joakim Noah than LeBron is.
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The elephant in the room is that the idea of playing with Derrick Rose is great, but the idea of Derrick Rose is all you might get, as Rose has played just a handful of games the past few years due to knee injuries. Compared to Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade is Cal Ripen Jr.
What seems to make the most sense for all parties involved is that LeBron opts-in to next year with the Heat, and does this all again next off-season, when teams will have more cap space and the dust will have settled on how the Heat have rebuilt their team. LeBron can sit back and see just how dedicated Micky Arison is to keeping the Miami Heat on top, while at the same time see how Dwyane Wade's transition from superstar to a Manu Ginobli like role goes. In the end LeBron James has plenty of options, but the one with the most stability is the one he chose four years ago.