By Sean Sarcu @seansarcu on June 25, 2014
LeBron James has opted out of the final year of his contract with the Miami Heat and will enter NBA free agency on July 1. This hardly means that he won't return to Miami; James may simply be looking for long-term security for himself and his family. Here are 5 reasons why the Heat absolutely must re-sign LeBron.
The Heat's notoriously ultra-aggressive defense is predicated on athleticism, so it shouldn't be surprising that LeBron is the key. He is everywhere, constantly offering help and being a deterrent to opposing drivers even when he isn't guarding them directly. Losing James would necessitate Miami completely overhauling its defensive system.
Most of the teams linked to LeBron are in the Eastern Conference, which isn't good news for the Heat. Whether James chooses to go back to the Cleveland Cavaliers, joins the Chicago Bulls or somehow finds his way onto the New York Knicks, Miami's window of contention slams shut.
Pat Riley is 69 years old, and the prospect of a rebuild — which Miami would almost certainly have to undergo if LeBron leaves — doesn't seem very attractive. It is in Heat management's best interest to put together a roster that can win in the immediate term, and James departing makes that far more difficult than it otherwise would be.
Dwyane Wade is a shell of his former self, and Chris Bosh has fallen in love with shooting from the perimeter. If LeBron leaves, Miami becomes a fringe playoff team in a laughably weak Eastern Conference. The Heat have very little to offer other than LeBron; they absolutely cannot let him walk in free agency.
There may be a notion that even if James leaves, the Heat can simply bide their time and sign a major free agent or two to replace him. This reasoning, of course, falls flat; there is no player in the NBA who can provide even close to the two-way dominance that LeBron does. He is one of a kind; there is no replacing him.
Sean Sarcu is a Chicago Blackhawks writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter or add him to your network on Google.
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