Simply Put: LeBron James Has 2 Options

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Jun 15, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) and guard Dwyane Wade (3) speak during a press conference after game five of the 2014 NBA Finals at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Spurs dominated the Miami Heat in 5 games, in a series that did not go the way any/many saw coming. The depth, long term planning and system of the Spurs overcame the talent, friendship and flash of the Heat. That leads all questions, except a few for the NBA Draft, to be turned to the future of LeBron James, the best basketball player on the planet for at least the next 2 or 3 years. Simply put James as 2 Options:

1) Stay and Trust in Pat Riley

This is the option that most expected before the season and even before the Finals. Yet a 4 to 1 series have many, possibly including James, thinking otherwise. It is an interesting option as it isn’t as clear of a path to success as the other. Trust Riley and the Heat model is a great idea, and makes senses as it worked before. Yet there are no clear idea how this would work out. If we assume that the Heat need to make changes, as Brian Windhorst does:

The Miami Heat, quite clearly, are no longer a championship team and are in need of some changes.

then we have to look forward to how they could do so. They do not have the cap space to do anything significant unless all 3 of James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade opt out and take less money. Technically they can’t have an agreement with the Heat before they opt out. Obviously the Heat and those players would have some understanding but even that could be difficult. Do all 3 of them want to take less money again? Could Wade see that he deserves his cash for all that he has done for the franchise? Could Bosh see a chance to go somewhere else and make more money and be a bigger star?

That route still could require more movement that is not easy to have happen. Both Chris Anderson and Udonis Haslem would also have to opt out of their contracts to take less money. All of these players would  be needed though for a team with depth issues that were evident in the Finals. All of those moves could bring in Carmelo Anthony but the Heat would still be dealing with the aging Wade, the somewhat forgotten Bosh and the lack of young athletic players on the team. Windhorst continues:

• James played 400 minutes more than any teammate this season and about 1,300 more minutes than running mate Wade. This is a trend he’s interested in reversing immediately. This means the Heat will have to add at least one reliable, and ideally younger, player at his position.

Again why this option is possibly problematic: not a ton of young, reliable players at the small forward position available for the Heat. The Heat will neither have the cap space to sign one of those type of players, the type the Cavs have been looking for since James left, and won’t have any trade assets to use in a trade for such a player. The Heat may have pulled a miracle in 2010 but finding a young, reliable player at the small forward spot is an even bigger reach.

If the Heat do not go for a Big 4 scenario the other option is to continue their current path. Try to get a bit of cap space so they can sign a number of players to fill the needed depth that was exposed during the Finals. This is more likely but still problematic. Do they get older players that they feel like they can rely on but whose age limits their output or try to get a younger player or two that they may not find reliable enough to give minutes to?

This is still the  most likely option for James but it is hard to find a way that the Heat can change the roster to answer the questions brought up during this Finals. It is the NBA and anything is possible but if James returns to the Heat it will most likely be with a very similar team switching out a few parts, including losing Mario Chalmers. Is that enough for James to commit? Could that lead him to opt in instead or look at his other option:

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Tags: Cleveland Cavaliers Lebron James

  • Letterman007

    I can see them taking less money and opting for some help. But after watching last nights game, I’m not sure Melo would be enough and they are loosing Battier and probably Chalmers there just doesn’t seem to be enough money to fix their situation? This is the cost of doing business the way they did it!! No cap space, very few picks in the draft, and an aging players, just don’t get it done!!!

    • Jared Mueller

      Besides the talent of Wade and Bosh they did exactly what the Cavs did. Surrounded with aging players then traded any picks/young players to either get another vet or to get under the cap. Remember they amnestied Mike Miller for cap purposes. I love what the Cavs have done, not all have hit, but they have a nucleus of young players that should continue to develop. Adding Embiid or Wiggins plus a high level FA would mean long long term success.

      • Letterman007

        The Cavs problem is a couple picks they need do overs on and the lack of a good strong coach!! They need more offense from Tristan Thompson and he may have topped out on that. They all need to learn t play defense better and how to play team ball!! they should learn to give up the selfishness and play for the good of the team!! Of they need a rim protector, so I hope the take Embiid but that will depend on his health!!

        • Jared Mueller

          They could of done better with their picks but getting #1 this year changes everything. I think a core of Irving/Waiters and either Embiid or Wiggins is a chance for a great Top 3 then add in TT, Bennett etc and you have a group. How long till LBJ made Finals? KD? I think we often forget how long it takes to develop, especially when the coaches keep changing. I love good ball movement system and a rim protector like Embiid or Larry Sanders could complete the defense.

          • Letterman007

            One thing your forgetting, LBJ made the playoffs a couple times before the finals and it didn’t take 3 or 4 years to do that!!

          • Jared Mueller

            He didn’t get to the playoffs till his 3rd year so if the Cavs make it this year Irving will only be 1 season behind.

          • Letterman007

            So you are predicting they make the playoffs next year for sure?

          • Jared Mueller

            I am not big into predicting things of that nature but yes. I would put it at 90% or so.

          • Letterman007

            Come on you like going out on a limb! I still think it would be a good idea and a good and great for Dan Gilbert and the fans to hire Mark Price in a capacity as assistant coach. He would help Kyrie learn leadership!!

        • Joe

          Livio Jean-Charles? Cory Joseph. James Anderson.
          San Antonio has not had a solid, 1st round draft pick since George Hill in 2008.
          Hill was traded for Kawhi Leonard.
          DeJuan Blair was a 2nd-rounder as was Goran Dragic.
          What the Spurs do is DEVELOP players.
          You can’t do that without consistency and constraint.
          Stop firing coaches and changing offenses and defenses and rosters.
          The Cavs, even without a rim protector, can win a lot of games if they develop the talent currently under contract.
          Hire David Blatt. Hire Mark Price. Hire Jim Cleamons. But stick with him.
          Don’t fire somebody because of a bad season, or half a season.
          Panic prevents progress.

          • Jared Mueller

            I actually was in favor of keeping Brown soley for that purpose. Same with the Browns we need to stay consistent with our coaching.

  • Joe

    Bosh may be the key, and Jared pointed that out.
    Is he happier being 3rd banana, or does he want to return to being the big show?
    Will Bosh take far less money when his endorsement money if far less than Lebron’s?
    What is Lebron thinking? Nobody knows though many think they do.
    Projecting your own thoughts on to a person with his childhood base, and his celebrity status that he has enjoyed or suffered since early childhood, is not going to yield an accurate analysis.
    As I’ve previously stated, Lebron’s wife has a store in Miami, his mother has a fiancee in Miami, and his children probably have friends and teachers in Miami and think of it as home.
    Lebron’s priorities seem to have changed over the years as is normal for a young man.
    Winning more rings, surpassing Jordan, becoming a billionaire, returning to Akron, doing what is best for his wife and kids and mother, doing what the fans in Ohio want, the fans in Miami, the fans in NY—no one, not even Lebron, maybe, knows how to rank all those dreams.
    Lebron cannot please everybody.
    He wanted to, and that is why he once gave hope to Cleveland that he would stay, to NY that he would go there, to Chicago.
    The result was that he inspired bitterness across the country.
    This time, Lebron, decide quickly and firmly (and privately), announce, then stick with your decision.

    • Letterman007

      I think Dwayne Wade is the key as he is nearing the end of his time being a star. Will he want his big pay day for possibily his last two years? If he does that upsets the apple cart with taking less to get help!! and your correct, if Bosh wants to be THE Star and go somewhere else to do that? It will be interesting to see how it goes!!