According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, the Los Angeles Lakers will be in hot pursuit of LeBron James during the summer of 2014, when he will have the opportunity to opt of his contract with Miami Heat to either sign with another team or pursue a larger contract.
“It’s all wishful thinking at this point,” a league source with knowledge of the situation told ESPN. “Teams are doing more wishing than LeBron is wanting right now. It’s not about where LeBron wants to go [to win]. He already has two rings. If LeBron moved to Reno, teams would come to him.”
With James focused on a potential three-peat with the Heat this season, there won’t be serious consideration from him about his future until the beginning of July in 2014. Then, just like in 2010, he will examine all of his options and determine what franchise will give him the best opportunity to succeed. There will be many superstar free agents going into 2014, such as Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Luol Deng, Danny Granger, and even Dirk Nowitzki, so many teams are clearing as much cap room as they can in anticipation of this.
The challenge that the Lakers will face is a lack of core talent outside an aging Kobe Bryant. This could be the one factor that hurts their chances the most. James will want to go to a team with an established system and reputable roster, which the Lakers are struggling with at the moment. Plus, with Kobe not wanting to take a significant pay cut, it will be difficult to fit more than two max contracts under the new strict CBA Cap. This is how the Heat were able to succeed in signing James in 2010, convincing all three star players to take large pay cuts in order to play together and win a championship.
What it will ultimately come down to is how well the Heat succeed this season. If they are to win their third title in a row, no team outside of the Heat will have a chance at signing James. What other team can offer James that kind of success immediately? Nobody. Even with an aging Wade (who is going to have a breakout season this year, mark my words) and a paper thin “center” in Bosh, the Heat will still be able to bring in quality talent to surround James at a cheap price because of the allure of winning a title.
Next year’s free agency is going to be frenzy. Hopefully we won’t have to witness another “Decision”.