Jun 20, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James addresses the media after defeating the San Antonio Spurs in game seven in the 2013 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena. Miami Heat won 95-88 to win the NBA Championship. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Lebron James: CBS Sports Preps for 2014 Free Agency

Feb 24, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (2) and Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) during the second half at the American Airlines Arena. MIami won 109-105. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

As NBA players begin to prepare for the 2013-2014 season media outlets have started prepping for the 2014 Free Agency period. CBS Sports preps for Lebron James and his 2014 Free Agency specifically in 2 articles. While James has been clear that he does not have a plan besides prepping for the season, it makes for “good news” to start writing about Lebron and his free agency. Lets review the two articles and what we can learn from them in relation to the Cavaliers.

Greg Doyel

Doyel’s article was interesting starting with his admittance that James’ put him in his place in the past in an interview. He actually links to the YouTube video of such which is humble for someone to do.

And let me tell you who LeBron is: One of the smartest athletes I’ve ever written about. I don’t mean smart in the “basketball IQ” way, though he has tons of that. I’m talking about smart in the way he processes information at such a fast rate. Look, I’ve sat through scores of LeBron’s press conferences over the years. I see him get asked questions, and I see how he answers them. And I remember what he did to me when I asked a poorly worded question about shrinking during the 2011 NBA Finals: He blew me up. And not with several minutes or even a few seconds to think about how he was going to do it. He instantaneously blew me up with the most perfect answer possible — to a question he didn’t see coming. I walked out of that press conference painfully aware: He’s smarter than I am.

  • As Cleveland fans experienced James is often very measured in all of his words with all of them having a point. While we will not be able to learn exactly what James is going to do in 2014 we will be able to learn about his thinking from all of his answers.

Because in LeBron’s view, the projections don’t work. Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade will make too much money, eat into too much of the salary cap, for whatever production they’ll give the Heat after the 2013-14 season. Bosh just isn’t as good as LeBron (and the rest of us) thought in 2010, and Wade is getting old, fast. Wade has another few good years left, but he doesn’t have any great years left. He’s still capable of an occasional great game, but those will become less frequent. And less great.

And LeBron didn’t come to Miami for this.

  • Doyel, as many in the media have suggested, thinks that when James looks at the team around him he does not see any future championships. James has always shown a long sited person, including him thinking about running for President of the Player’s Union. While it is true that based on talent James will take that view,  his friendship with Wade and Pat Riley’s ability to pull rabbits out of his hat means that him leaving Miami is less then guaranteed.

He didn’t come to Miami for it to be hard. He came to Miami because he wanted it easy. He wanted a sure thing. Compete for NBA titles? He already had that in Cleveland. He’d have that anywhere he goes, because any roster with LeBron James will compete for an NBA title. That 2009 team in Cleveland was terrible, utter dreck, except for LeBron. And that team won 66 games and reached the Eastern Conference Finals.

  • Doyel words this as if this makes James’ less of a player or a bad guy for wanting a “sure thing.” Every player, every person, has unique goals. If James’ primary goal professionally is to win titles he should do what he feels is best to reach it. Many non-athletes decide to take certain jobs for financial reasons, some choose less money to live in a certain city and others choose opportunities based on the power the position provides. Judging James based on his goals, when they aren’t anti-social or criminal, is inappropriate for anyone.

Meantime, he’ll drop hints like the one he dropped this week when he said: “I mean, as a kid, I never thought the Bulls would break up. Never. If you’d have told me as a kid that [Michael] Jordan and [Scottie] Pippen wouldn’t play together for the rest of their lives, I’d have looked at you crazy.”

See what LeBron did there? That was verbal sleight-of-hand, and it’s like I said: This guy is smart. He talked about how the Bulls went through a “break up” and compared the idea of his leaving Miami after this season to Jordan’s leaving the Bulls in 1998, leaving out one difference: Jordan retired. He didn’t leave the Bulls to find another franchise that would make it easier to win, because he and LeBron have different wiring. LeBron is bigger, faster, stronger than Jordan. Possibly a better shooter and defender. Definitely a better passer. But Jordan was never scared to compete.

LeBron was scared in 2010. And it looks like he hasn’t changed.

  • Doyel ends with 2 specific themes. 1) James’ words are meaningful and 2) Doyel doesn’t think highly of Lebron James when it comes to this process. Being close to players over a number of years may create difficult personal feelings but professionally it can be tough to separate the two.

Ken Berger

Berger provides more general blog responsibilities for CBS as well as breaking news, think Adam Schefter-Lite of the NBA. His article, like all articles will be until real information is available, was somewhat limited.

* What if Dwyane Wade doesn’t physically resume being Dwyane Wade?

* What if Pat Riley decides to retire? He’s pushing 70 years old.

* What if the Heat fall short of their third straight championship and Micky Arison decides that spending a bazillion dollars on luxury tax to keep his three max players together isn’t the best fiscal alternative?

* What if Bosh and/or Wade, for whatever other reason, wind up playing somewhere else next season? Each also has an ETO in July.

  • Berger asks some pretty clear questions that James will have to deal with as he reaches this upcoming summer. Wade, Riley, Bosh and the luxury tax will play huge roles in his decision making process.

Free agency is good for business, and no one’s free agency is better for business than LeBron’s. And ultimately, he can fan the flames or try to squelch them all he wants, but the beast has already left the barn and is galloping toward July 1, 2014 with reckless abandon. There’s no stopping it now.

But that doesn’t mean LeBron James has to know what he’s going to do. He doesn’t. He can’t. And if you’re waiting for him to answer these questions with anything other than, “I don’t know,” then the run-up to James’ 2014 free agency is going to be a very unfulfilling exercise for you.

But then, it always is.

  • Berger does a great job of warning us that this will be a long long season. James will probably do a better job then he did on the build up to 2010 in answering questions. That won’t change the amount of discussion that will take place. Many may be frustrated by the discussion but page hits, videos watched and radio segments listened to prove people want to hear more

Because of James’ history with the Cavs, the front office seemingly having a plan if he wants to return and the talented, young roster the Cavs have FoS will continue to cover his upcoming free agency. Might be a long 10 months for all.



Tags: Lebron James Miami Heat

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