LeBron James announced last Tuesday that he was opting out of his contract with the Miami Heat and becoming a free agent.
Before I break this down, let me take you through my reaction to James’ decision. The notification appeared on my iPhone screen, courtesy of Bleacher Report’s Team Stream App. It read as follows
Breaking: LeBron James to Exercise Early Termination Option and Become a Free Agent, According to ESPN’s Chris Brou…
Not kidding, that’s how it actually read.
After reading the notification, another B/R Team Stream notification followed below James’ announcement. This one read as follows
Mets Will Recall C Travis d’Arnaud Today for Series Opener vs. A’s; Hit .436 with 6 HRs and 16 RBIs in Triple-A Stint.
After reading this notification, I went to Twitter and posted this tweet.
Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud is coming back!!!!!!!!!!! Oh and LeBron James is a free agent… pic.twitter.com/iBFXqYKr9S
— Francisco Bernard (@illbefrankie) June 24, 2014
It was the right response to be frank. James’ decision to opt of his contract with the Miami Heat was not a surprise nor was it earth-shattering. There were reports James, Bosh, and Wade were going to restructure their contracts so the Heat’s front office could have more finances to buy complementary talent for the “Big Three.”
It was the right response because nothing leads me to believe James is leaving Miami and there are a couple of reasons for that. One, he’s won in Miami.
Since James took his talents to South Beach, he has made the NBA Finals every year from 2011 to 2014. Taking a team to one finals is hard enough, but doing it four times in a row is nothing short of remarkable. James has established himself as the star of a team that will live on the history books as one of the most polarizing NBA teams. Not only did James help the Heat get to the Finals, James helped the Heat get not one, but two NBA Finals championships.
Say what you want to say about James’ uncalled-for proclamation where he went off saying “Not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven,” but NBA all-time greats like Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, Reggie Miller, Elgin Baylor and Charles Barkley never won an NBA title. James got to experience not one, but two NBA titles in consecutive seasons and was named the MVP of each Finals. James established a winning culture in Miami and the success he garnered in Miami can not be duplicated on another team.
Two, James can’t join a team he can’t fit well in nor play as the only part of a team. Remember Cleveland? That’s what James can look towards if he leaves Miami, because if he stays in Miami, there will be transactions to compliment him. The only teams able to afford James at the moment without making any other transactions are the Heat, the Phoenix Suns, the Dallas Mavericks, the Utah Jazz, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers. If James does leave Miami, the Phoenix Suns serve as the best fit because of how remarkable they played last season with such a young team. But it’s the Heat who have the best chance.
It’s unfortunate, but it seems Wade isn’t the player he used to be. The injuries are catching up and his Finals performance left much to be desired. If you appointed me as Pat Riley for, no pun intended, “Decision Day”, I would push Wade to not take as much money and if he pushes back, I’d push him out the door. There is respect for all Wade has done for Miami, but other franchise darlings like Chris Paul, Shaquille O’Neal and Paul Pierce all left and everyone moved on. Riley might have to move on. As it goes for Bosh, I’d keep Bosh for height and for his shooting abilities, but again, he can’t be asking for so much money.
The problem that lies with James staying in Miami is his (no pun intended) decision is dependent on what Wade and Bosh do and receive. If Wade and Bosh get the asking prices they desire, James won’t get the team that can take him to another title. So for his sake, I hope that little powwow the three had last week was like a settlement in a courtroom. Lot of money, but no sentencing.
Miami is not only the best fit for James, it’s the only one. He can’t fit anywhere else because no other team can offer the caliber of talent James requires to thrive and win. The Spurs displayed James’ true weakness. It’s not cramps, but rather playing for a team that plays like a team. Sure, he won two titles with this team, but the first was against a young, maturing Oklahoma City Thunder team and Ray Allen’s three pointer save the Finals for James last season. If James can’t play on a complete team, he loses, so the Heat need to give James a team, not two all-stars and a shooter.
Build around James and the Heat will have more success, but more importantly to James, it won’t be two, it won’t be three, it won’t be four.
Probably five I would say, but if the Heat execute these plans and build a complete team around James, more gold will grace the castle of King James.
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