The ‘stuff’ hit the proverbial fan Tuesday just before lunch, as ESPN broke the that four-time NBA MVP LeBron James’ agent Rich Paul had informed the Miami Heat that he has elected to opt out of his contract and become a free agent.
LeBron James’ agent Rich Paul has told Heat LeBron will exercise early termination option
— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) June 24, 2014
Of course, the national sports media wouldn’t be doing its job if news of King James returning to free agency didn’t yield as much talk about all of his potential future playing scenarios.
In concert with media and internet speculation came word from many teams that suddenly have interest in throwing their names in the hat for consideration; teams like the Atlanta Hawks, Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers are now suddenly gearing up to join the Los Angeles Lakers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami in making their pitches to LeBron.
With everyone else speculating where he should go or what his best option might be, Golden State Warriors guard Jordan Crawford offered up his own suggestion.
If I’m in is ear I’m like ” F it pick u a team and go get Slim Reaper” why not? — Jordan Crawford (@jcraw55) June 24, 2014
“F it … why not?” Why not, indeed.
Surely the potential of joining the current MVP with James is extremely palatable, aside from the fact that they already have $67.9 million committed in 2014-15 salary. They could amnesty Perkins, but that’d only help them to get just under the cap. And, considering that Kevin Durant, the Slim Reaper, is under contract through 2015-16 (at just over $41 million), it’s less likely that he’d be leaving to go team up on another team anytime soon.
Shortly after news of James’ decision to opt out become public, Heat president Pat Riley released a statement.
A statement from Miami HEAT President Pat Riley on LeBron James – http://t.co/YpNWTO2bd2
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) June 24, 2014
I was informed this morning of his intentions. We fully expected LeBron to opt-out and exercise his free agent rights, so this does not come as a surprise. As I said at the press conference last week, players have a right to free agency and when they have these opportunities, the right to explore their options. The last four seasons have been historic and LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Erik Spoelstra have led the Miami HEAT to one of the most unprecedented runs in the history of the NBA. We look forward to sitting down with LeBron and his representatives and talking about our future together. At the moment, we are preparing for the opportunities in the Draft and Free Agency as we continue with our goal of winning NBA Championships.”
Many had expected that James, along with his teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, would likely opt out. The surprising kicker here is that he did it independent of the other two, where it had been expected to be a unified decision. Yahoo! Sports reporter Adrian Wojnarowski cited sources as saying that the move is meant to put pressure on the heat.
LeBron James will opt-out of deal, source confirms. He’s determined to impose pressure on Miami to improve roster and spend, sources say.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 24, 2014
NBA.com reporter David Aldridge seemed to echo those sentiments.
Pat Riley is, officially, on the clock. — David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) June 24, 2014
Other famed NBA writers expect that this move is intended more to give LeBron a look at the bevy of options available to him.
Every incentive for LeBron James to opt-out. Could be precursor to leaving Miami, staying for more $ or staying for less $. #options
— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) June 24, 2014
In the meantime, LeBron can look around and consider options, in the event that the Heat misfire in free agency. — Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) June 24, 2014
Being based out of Atlanta, my personal preference would be the Atlanta Hawks. There are a number of reasons that this should be a considerable option.
- Atlanta has a couple talented All-Star caliber players (Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague)—with cap-friendly contracts to build a great core around
- A quality six-man in Louis Williams
- One of the NBA’s best three-point threats in Kyle Korver
- About $15 million in available cap space
- A couple promising young talents from last year’s draft (Dennis Schroder and Lucas Nogueira)
- The 15th pick in this year’s draft
- And a seemingly injury-prone former All-Star center with two years remaining on a $12 million contract that is amnesty-eligible should they wish to also make a run at acquiring Carmelo Anthony. Otherwise, if healthy, he’d round out talented and robust front court with Millsap and James.
- Finally, and not any less important, they have head coach Mike Budenholzer, who is well-respected around the league and revered as having been one of the brilliant minds responsible for the San Antonio Spurs offense—the same offense that eviscerated the Heat in this year’s NBA Finals, and an offense that would be quite suitable to James’ selfless, team-oriented style of play.
Considering that Ray Allen is open to playing his 19th season with LeBron, how would a pairing of Allen and Korver look receiving passes from James for open threes? Millsap, like Bosh, can shoot them as well. That offense could be DEADLY.
Whatever decision he ultimately makes, this is shaping up to be possibly the best (or, at least, most entertaining) offseason in NBA history.
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