The 2014 Free Agent class is very interesting. Various players are expected to opt-out of their current contracts to receive even bigger contracts. LeBron James, the consensus overall best player in the league, is expected to opt-out and receive a max-deal from any team that choses to pursue him. James’ sidekicks Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are also expected to opt-out of their current deals and possibly seek less money in order to bring in more talent.
However, the spotlight is on what LeBron James is going to do. Will he stay in Miami, where he was able to win two championships and play with his best friend, Dwyane Wade? Or, will he go to a large-market team like the Los Angeles Lakers or the New York Knicks? The biggest question that NBA fans have been waiting for is, “Will he go back to Cleveland and win a championship for the fans he left?”
In 2010, over live television LeBron James told his beloved Cleveland fans that he was taking his talents to South Beach (Miami). This not only shocked Cavalier fans, it shocked the whole NBA because this was the first instance of colluding they had ever seen. James was hated by many NBA fans across the country. Most of the hate has since died down over the years because of his two championships. But does LeBron really want to be hated by fans again for being a “team hopper”?
I can see many teams bidding for James’ services, but only a couple have a fighting chance to lure him into leaving a franchise that helped win him two championships.
New York Knicks
The New York Knicks will let Carmelo Anthony pick the team in 2014 if he decides to stay. That being said, Anthony will pursue the best free agents on the market, but does Anthony want to share the spotlight if James comes to town? If Anthony decides to stay in New York, I can’t see him trying to collude with James because they play the same position. Carmelo demands the ball at all times and throws up at least 30 shots a game.
LeBron is known as a floor-general who needs the ball to make his teammates better. If Anthony decides to leave, this should in theory open up the door for LeBron. New York is a large market team who is in need of keeping a superstar to stay in the city, but they have a chance at striking out on both Melo and LeBron. The Knicks need to be careful this offseason and be realistic in who they think they can acquire.
Cleveland was in luck this year, receiving the number one overall pick in the draft. Anthony Bennett was drafted, adding more youth to the team. Kyrie Irving is only 21 and is already considered by many a top-five point guard in the NBA. Dion Waiters is a player that has potential to be a great shooting guard in this league as well.
We all know the Cavs already have their backcourt set, but there is a gaping hole at small forward and center positions. Anderson Varejao showed promise at center last season, averaging 14 points and 14 rebounds before getting injured for the whole year.Varejao is injury prone and is already 31, therefore I cannot see Varejao as a long term answer. At small forward, Alonzo Gee cannot be a long-term answer nor can Earl Clark, who they acquired in free agency. This is when LeBron comes into the picture. He has a house in Cleveland, still holds camps in Cleveland, and grew up living there.
James loves everything about Cleveland and their roster bolsters loads of potential, something he won’t see in Miami. James also has mentioned the respect he has for Kyrie Irving, who could end up being his sidekick. However, Kyrie will demand and deserves the max deal and that means LeBron will have to take less to play there. Cleveland has a chance but they will have to pay him and that means letting go of role players like Tristan Thompson who will seek significant money as well.
South Beach was a great landing spot for James. Miami gave him a chance to compete for multiple championships and he’s already won two. They have done their best in acquiring the best talent available- this past free agency period they were able to sign Greg Oden and Michael Beasley. If Beasley grows up, that will take less pressure off LeBron as he has not had an adequate back up for his position his whole NBA career.Miami also brings him warm weather, something Cleveland cannot give to him. This sounds dumb, but players do like the physical aspects that a city brings.
Also, Miami will be able to bring in more talent to surround James; this was hinted by Wade as he said he would take less if he needed to. However, a big question mark should be highlighted next to Chris Bosh’s name. Bosh is known as the third wheel of the big three. He doesn’t shoot the ball a lot, he only scores 16 points a game, and he doesn’t play like he’s worth 17 million. Bosh is 6’11 and only grabs 6 rebounds a night. After all, Bosh was only brought there to space the floor; but what’s the point of spacing if you can’t hit an open outside shot? If Miami wants a good chance to retain James, Bosh needs to step up, if he fails to meet the demand, Miami may need to find a replacement for him.
It will be hard for LeBron James to leave Miami and I don’t think he will leave. Miami will give him the maximum contract at five years, 110 million dollars. Wade will reduce his salary to 10 million a year and Bosh will likely be asked to reduce his. A big thing to look for is will Bosh stay the third wheel in Miami or will he take his talents to another team.