LeBron James has exercised his option to become a Free Agent. So, he can now negotiate with any team in the NBA, including the Miami Heat. He, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh all signed six-year contracts with the Heat. These contracts included the 2015 season, except there was an option that any one of them could leave in 2014. James has decided to do that. At this time, neither Wade nor Bosh has announced their decisions.
In order to play together in the hope of winning multiple championships, the three of them combined talents and signed contracts with the Heat. Each of them agreed to take less money than they could have earned under other circumstances. It was their hope that this Alliance would generate six Championships. Regrettably, for them, that is not going to happen.
The Heat was a slight favorite to defeat the Spurs in the recent NBA Championship Series. After all, they had managed to pull out a last-second victory in the previous year. The Heat still had their Big Three, and the Spur's Tim Duncan was 38 years old. James was still James, Wade seemed to have recovered from his knee injuries, and Bosh was apparently reenergized. The Heat carried an aura of invincibility about them.
What they did not realize was that the Spurs had spent the entire season working on their plans to earn a victory. They assigned their best defenders to guard James. They increased the pace of the game, on both defense and offense. The intent of this approach was to tire the Heat, especially James. The Spurs would make many substitutions, in order to keep their team fresh, while they wore down the Heat.
This strategy probably worked better than the Spurs could have anticipated. They scored practically at will; they won the Championship in just five games. The last game was a public humiliation, even though James fought valiantly until the end. James was clearly disappointed, but he kept his composure, and he indicated that he was very tired and that he would be going on a vacation.
James has said that he wants to be a part of an organization that has a serious interest in winning Championships. As I see it, the possible destinations for him are the Clippers, Bulls, Cavaliers, Dallas and re-signing with the Heat. He is going to consider the talent of his possible teammates, the coach, the owner, and the organization itself. I think that he wants to make this his last move, so he wants to get it right. I also think that the Clippers are in a position to make him an offer that he cannot refuse.
Assuming that Steve Ballmer becomes the owner; he not only has incredibly deep pockets, but he has stated that he wants to win now. He paid $2 billion for the Clippers, when they were reportedly worth only half that much. So, spending a few hundred million dollars is not likely to be a problem for him. James already knows what a great coach Doc Rivers is, since it was Doc who broke his heart, when he was still playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland was leading Boston in the Championship Series 3 games to 2. The third victory has been a blowout win for the Cavaliers, and they thought the Series was over. In addition, if game 7 was needed, it would be played on the Cavaliers Home-court. Doc rallied the Celtics, and they won both games, on their way to the NBA Championship. That was a heartbreaking experience for James, but probably not as big as the one he suffered this year.
Looking back, I think that if Pat Riley had been coaching the Heat while James was there, they would have won all five championships. The Heat does have a good coach, but he is not an elite one like Riley, Popovich, or Rivers. They have all earned championships with teams that did not have an abundance of talent. These were coaches who got the most out of what they had.
James has behaved like both a gentleman and a businessman. He has not pointed any fingers, made any threats, or insulted anyone. He is living up to the agreement that everyone approved just five years ago.
For five years, he has dedicated himself to playing as hard and as well as he could. He has been more dedicated to trying to win that many of his contemporaries. He has more than earned the right to choose his destiny.