When LeBron James opted out of his contract to explore free agency, most people felt it symbolized the end of his era with the Miami Heat. The assumptions were reasonable and made perfect sense when you took into consideration that Dwayne Wade was not the same player he once was and Chris Bosh has never quite lived up to his expectations. Not to mention, the powerhouse teams of the Western Conference are only getting stronger year after year, while the Heat’s roster remains practically identical.
So what’s a LeBron to do? Now that teams around the NBA have started to court King James, I decided to look into my crystal ball to find out where LeBron will end up taking his talents to next season. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, step right up and witness the circus we will dub The Decision Part 2!
1) The Miami Heat
Pat Riley and company will need Jerry Maguire and the Wolf of Wall Street making deals on the phone if they want to keep the best player on the planet from changing uniforms. At this point it’s become clear, in order to retain LeBron James Miami has to sign a premier free agent. Unfortunately, to sign a player like that, plus the Big 3, will take a lot of sleepless nights by many green-visored accountants. The easiest solution to the problem is for each of the Big 3 to take enough of a pay cut so they can create a Big 4. However, nothing is that simple when dealing with money hungry athletes, as it’s rumored, LeBron James is looking for a max contract this time around, in effect killing all hopes of that idea.
The next best solution for Miami is to forget about re-signing Chris Bosh altogether. Let’s face it, his crocodile tears and below average performance aren’t worth the $20M/yr he’s making. At the end of the day, the Heat are better off grabbing some white out and replacing Chris Bosh’s name on the contract with Carmelo Anthony. Then after they do that, perhaps someone in the front office can inform D Wade that just because he’s in the twilight of his career doesn’t mean he should be making Twilight money. Seriously, this isn’t Team Edward or Team Jacob, it’s Team LeBron! So if Wade wants to help the Heat, he’ll take his pay cut like a man! Maybe then, in addition, Miami can try and land a veteran Center like Pau Gasol to help fill their void down low in the paint. However, if everybody remains greedy during negotiations, then the Heat definitely won’t be able to keep their stars. Sorry to inform you Miami Heat fans, but you might have to say goodbye to your championship dreams. Never mind, it looks like they already left with 3 minutes to go!
2) The Chicago Bulls
If LeBron does decide to pack up his talents and leave South Beach, signing with the Chicago Bulls would be his best option. Not only can the Bulls provide LeBron with a sufficient amount of money, but the team is also battle tested, and essentially one piece away from winning the Eastern Conference championship for the foreseeable future. The only question is whether or not the Bulls owner, Jerry Reisndorf, will pull the trigger and amnesty Carlos Boozer in order to free up the money necessary to sign LeBron. Although Reisndorf is known for being tightfisted, you’d have to imagine he’d loosen his grip and absorb the cost of Boozer’s contract if it meant signing a player of James’ caliber.
To entice LeBron to come to Chicago, the Bulls need to abuse the legacy of Michael Jordan. For example, during Bron’s visit I’d show him the 6 championship banners, the number 23 retired in the rafters, and the Jumpman statue in front of the building. Trust me, I’ve seen the Lakers use this tactic to perfection and it works like a charm. In fact, if they had more to offer than a dilapidated Kobe Bryant and geriatric Steve Nash, I’d say they were the front runners in the race for LeBron! Then again, LeBron has been known to avoid pressure situations and might not want the added expectations of playing in the shadow of legends, especially in the house that Mike built. Or just maybe he’s finally gained the confidence he needs to step into that role now that he’s got 4 MVPs and won 2 titles since The Decision Part 1. Regardless, if the deal happens it would essentially place him into a starting lineup consisting of fellow league MVP Derrick Rose, Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah, and former Coach of the Year Tom Thibodeau. Sounds like one nasty NBA Jam squad to me!
3) The Cleveland Cavaliers
As outrageous and unlikely as it might seem, I think it would be amazing to re-witness LeBron in a Cleveland Cavaliers jersey! C’mon, how crazy of a storyline would King Jame’s return to Cleveland be? Okay, I’m not saying he can completely make up for lost time, but tell the truth, winning just 1 championship for the city of Cleveland is just as good as winning not 1, not 2, not 3, …
And don’t forget, the NBA recently gift wrapped three of the last four number 1 draft picks to Cleveland! That means LeBron would be playing with one of the most talented group of young players in the league. And since the competition in the Eastern Conference is weak sauce on a garbage platter, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the combination of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Andrew Wiggins make it to the Finals. Now, could they win against the Western Conference champs!? Probably not, but at the very least it would be entertaining to watch. Honestly, I always liked the underdog version of LeBron better anyways, and would probably find myself rooting for him to win again, especially if he can somehow manifest his beastmode status of yesteryear! You remember those days, before the flopping and the cramps, back when he used to play all 4 quarters!
After reviewing all the options, my heart and mind both think he’ll wind up in Chicago, but my crystal ball shows him playin in a Heat uniform. Yup, it looks like the max contract he can get with Miami, combined with the peer pressure from Wade/Melo, and the overall allure of South Beach are way too overwhelming for him to leave. I know, I know, we all expected a little more controversy and drama, but I guess what they say is true – The sequel is never as good as the original. Let’s just hope The Decision Part 3 is better than this!
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