Earlier this summer, LeBron James re-signing with the Miami Heat seemed like a foregone conclusion. All three members of the Big Three opted out of their contracts, seemingly pointing towards clearing cap space for the Heat to operate and sign quality role players for another title run next season. Because James has still yet to decide where he will end up playing next season, speculation is running amok all over the web as to where he will land.
Most of the teams that James’ agent met with this past week have a longshot chance of signing him this offseason, but one team in particular left a very deep and meaningful impression during their meeting with Rich Paul. That team was none other than the Cleveland Cavaliers, and what they offered as James’s potential future in this league should frighten the Heat organization.
Even though the Heat have an NBA-record $55 million in cap space, that still wouldn’t leave the franchise with much room to operate in terms of signing quality role players if the team were to potentially signing James to a max contract, with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade taking lesser deals. The Cavaliers, on the other hand, could be stacked in terms of talent for the next few years, if not longer.
Not only do the Cavaliers have Kyrie Irving under wraps with a new five-year contract extension, they also just signed the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, Andrew Wiggins. Couple that with multiple first-round picks over the next few seasons, along with plenty of youth and roster stability, and the Cavaliers have the assets to make James take a hard look at what his future could be like playing in a Cavaliers uniform once again.
One of the biggest hurdles for the Cavaliers to overcome at this point is owner Dan Gilbert, and how he spurned James immediately following his decision to flee to Miami. Paul seems to have become the mediator throughout all of these team meetings, so it’s not a longshot to consider he is doing the same in the discussions between James and Gilbert.
If the Heat want to retain James for next season or the foreseeable future, Pat Riley needs to act fast in this topsy-turvy free agency and solidify some role players to improve the Heat’s lackluster bench from last season. If no improvements are made, James could see the Cavaliers and all of their young talent as a viable option to help him win his third championship.