Where will LeBron land…

Just a few days ago LeBron James decided to opt out of his current contract with the Miami Heat and test free agency and like the sheep that follow the shepherd both Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh opted out as well. A lot of heat fans will see this as an indication that they will opt back in with new additions to the roster including more depth on their bench which they lacked in the finals. I’m not like a lot of people and will explain where I think the King ends up and why.
Prior to James’ decision to opt out, Pat Riley held a press conference and was faced with tough questions surrounding the big 3 and what’s next for them. When questions surfaced about LeBron and whether or not he would stay, Riley took the opportunity and was as honest as he could be. He seemed to be taking shots at James saying if he has the “guts” to work through their “minor tweaks” in the roster he’ll stay. He went on to say he’d be surprised if he “didn’t see Wade in a Miami Heat jersey next season.” Following the press conference the news hit that the big 3 made their move to opt out. I’m sure a fair amount of fans panicked and wanted to point the finger at Riley assuming he said the wrong things, but he didn’t. Riley said what he was supposed to in a desperate situation where there was clear indication that James wasn’t happy. It was no surprise LeBron wanted to test free agency. There’s no question LeBron is not getting all of what he’s worth, but that’s the sacrifice he took when coming to Miami with Bosh. Now at age 30 he has a real decision to make as this next contract will most likely be his last contract signing. So he needs to make the decision on whether to shop around and get his money’s worth or stay in his current situation and hope for the best.
It’s no secret that LeBron was flat out TIRED this season. He carried the entire load of the team while Bosh and Wade got paid as much and did much less. I’m sure LeBon’s frustration with this situation was a factor in his decision.
Another no brainer is that LeBron just flat out wasn’t happy this season. Wade was only featured in 54 games in the regular season and averaged an even 19 ppg (which is the fewest since LeBron took his talents to South Beach). With every year Wade stays in the league the question still remains whether or not his knees will hold up. With this year being one of his healthiest in the big 3 era and the Heat still stopped short of a championship, James has to be thinking how much Dwayne has left in the tank. As for Chris Bosh, well…….
He had a solid year defensively and personally I’m still skeptical about his offense mainly being around the 3 point line and him not being able to be physical and bang down low and that can hurt him on both ends. Duncan and Splitter had their way down low with no one down low for the Heat making them struggle. And with the pick up of Greg Oden being a total bust they really had no one to look to. Chris Andersen showed his age this year and didn’t give the Heat that spark off the bench they needed like last season.
When you look at Miami’s roster they have 7 players that are 32 or over. With really only two of those players truly contributing, Miami will have to do more than just some “minor tweaks.” Three of those players contributed absolutely nothing and are just on the bench to earn a ring. Mario Chalmers is asking for around $8 million/year in his new contract and his talents can surely be replaced next season. So his demand isn’t such a priority for the organization and with his poor performance is the finals, don’t expect Chalmers to be in a Heat uniform next season. The Heat will need to revamp the majority of their bench along with one or two starting positions and in a convincing matter if they want the King to return.
With the teams competing for James, the Heat faces the most pressure, especially since Riley made those comments in his press conference. If LeBron chooses to come back, Riley has to show his “guts” and make some changes to the roster.
When it all comes down to it, Miami may be in some trouble when it comes to convincing James. Of course Miami is an ideal destination for any player but playing alongside one of the greatest of all time makes it more enticing. But it’s a matter of finding the right players at the right price. Of course there is a possibility Carmelo can join the big 3 but that may make things extremely difficult for the 3 and 4 position when both LeBron and Carmelo play the same position. Even though one can play the 3 and the other the 4, that could minimize one’s talents because the 4 may need to focus down low more than out of the paint and that may not be ideal when you look at the finals and see how well the Spurs played in the paint.
When you look at all the factors I see Lebron James playing elsewhere and by elsewhere I mean back home, in Cleveland. I know that Cleveland has truly struggled since Lebron left but when they can offer Lebron more money and provide a young, talented team that needs a leader to carry them, Lebron fulfills what they need. They’ve had three number 1 overall picks since James left along with a number 4 draft pick. All with potential to be something special in the league and with the help of a true leader this team has the potential to make an instant run in a weak Eastern Conference. This team is a lot more talented than any of the teams Lebron was on when he was with the Cavs, especially the team he carried to the finals in 2007. Although James and owner Dan Gilbert didn’t part ways on the best of terms, I’m sure Gilbert will do whatever it takes to bring the King back home and place him in a Cavaliers uniform.
James also mentioned that it was a priority to try and stay in Miami but they are somewhat limited in what they can offer with the big 3 contracts being so large. As for Wade and Bosh opting out as well, I see their mindset being that if Lebron leaves, they deserve they should be paid as well, but I will agree with Riley and say I would be surprised if Wade isn’t back I’m a Heat uniform.
With Cleveland being a younger team with more potential to bring to the table, along with the ability to offer more money AND it being practically home for the king, it may just be enough to lure him back home. I don’t see Riley’s comments bothering James that much because James has done plenty for the Miami organization making four consecutive trips to the finals and winning two of them. Of course Houston is a contender but I just don’t see Lebron and Dwight working well together. Yes Howard is a big man with authority but his mental weakness could irritate James and it seems like Howard only competes well when he believes he’s the best player on the court. The Lakers are another contender with cap space but I only see James landing there if Carmelo joins and with those two playing alongside Kobe is tough to see as well.

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