Another NBA offseason, another circus. This time, LeBron James is leading the way for the second time in his career.
According to various sources, James’ agent has informed the Miami Heat that the superstar will exercise the early termination option in his contract, and will become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Now, the ball is in James’ court — and believe me, it is solely in his court. Whether his star teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh opt out of their contracts as well should not matter one bit to James. He is the best player in the world, and he is one of the few players in this league who literally has the option to go to any team he so desires.
Wade and Bosh? Those two could go to a number of teams, but not every team would line up with assets in hand to bring one of them in.
James has had success in Miami, so it is not like he left the Cleveland Cavaliers to go into a losing situation where he took a giant hit to his legacy. James went to the Heat and was the best player on a team that made four straight NBA Finals appearances, and even won two championships. Even in this year’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs, James was arguably the best player in the series as he averaged 28.2 PPG on 57.1 percent shooting from the field, including a scorching 51.9 percent from the three-point line.
James did not just score, however, as he showed his all-around game by putting up 7.8 RPG and 4.0 APG game as well.
LeBron had to do a lot for the Heat this past season without having a quality backup at his position, and it showed. The wear and tear James experienced this past season came to light in the playoffs when he, along with many of his other teammates, simply looked gassed against the Spurs, who had plenty of rest coming in courtesy of the coaching strategies of Gregg Popovich.
James did not have the luxury of being a part of a team with quality depth this season like the Spurs. He knew he had to be “the man” in the locker room and on the court, and when going up against opponents with depth at every position, it can be a really daunting task, even for the best player in the entire league.
So what should James do now? Should he stay in Miami, where his family is happy, and try to retool for the future? Or should he leave the Heat and go be a part of a better situation at this very moment?
Normally, I would be an advocate of an athlete staying with their team through and through and helping to build an annual contender. However, if James solely wants to win rings, then he would be foolish to stay in Miami.
I know the criticism I will get at this point for saying something like this: James should not leave because his reputation would take a big hit. Well, James has accomplished so much at this point that I do not think he cares about what others think of him. He has matured as a player and is not trying to be a people-pleaser anymore.
James cares about his family first and foremost, but after that he cares about winning titles. That is why he was not afraid to opt out. I am sure he recognizes that his teammates and himself are not getting any younger, and that there are teams out there that are fresher and ever more ready to beat them up for years to come. James is not dumb — he is just keeping his options open.
So if James decides to leave Miami, which teams could he sign with? The Houston Rockets and Chicago Bulls are two teams that would become automatic favorites to win the title next year with LeBron. Another intriguing possibility would is the Los Angeles Lakers, where the King can team up with Kobe Bryant and potentially Carmelo Anthony as well.
In short, James has options. Do I think he is staying in Miami? Ultimately, I think he will. But if he just wants to win rings? Well, then he needs to kiss Miami goodbye.