It seems as if it is a daily swing on whether LeBron James is going to stay with the Miami Heat or bolt to another NBA team as a free agent. While general managers around the league believe it is inevitable that he returns to South Beach, the fact remains that at any given moment James could shock the world and announce his new home.
It is truly remarkable to see what the entire Heat organization is doing to try and accommodate LeBron. When LeBron tweets that Shabazz Napier is his favorite player in the draft, Miami trades two future picks to draft the guy. The franchise’s most iconic player in team history was somehow convinced to turn down a two-year, $40 million deal, which is money Dwyane Wade will never see annually again, in order to keep James. Chris Bosh has agreed to opt-out of a $20 million annual salary to take a more team-friendly deal. This has never been done in NBA history, maybe even professional sports altogether, yet it truly may not be enough.
According to reports, the Heat are telling teams that they have around $12 million in salary cap space. If this were true, they then would have the ability to add an impact free agent. And, if Miami is able to add a solid player, it would more than likely convince James to sign back on.
It all sounds good for Heat fans, but there is a problem. There are not many impact free agents to begin with, even with $12 million in cap space. They are still most likely priced out of the range of players like Carmelo Anthony, Pau Gasol and Luol Deng. With Kyle Lowry and Marcin Gortat going back to the Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards respectively, Miami’s options are becoming extremely limited.
Who else is left in the free agent pool for the Heat to target? The only way Miami can add is through signing free agents, because they essentially have no assets to trade. The issue is there are not many players left who would make a big impact. Dirk Nowitzki is not leaving the Dallas Mavericks. Even if Miami could afford Gasol, they have yet to set up a meeting with him, and he is being rumored to the Oklahoma City Thunder or Chicago Bulls, with the Los Angeles Lakers still in the picture.
There are some solid veterans available like Vince Carter and Paul Pierce, but would those guys be enough for LeBron to stay? It is an intriguing question.
Rumors are swirling each and every day, and LeBron is staying quiet. He is almost as quiet as the time leading up to the dreaded “Decision.” While Miami remains the favorite to bring him back, time continues to pass and more free agents are scooped up by teams every day which only enhances the chances that LeBron bolts South Beach.