Fairweather Heat fans, prepare to abandon ship.
The NBA Free Agency/Trade/Draft period suddenly got phenomenally more interesting this year, with LeBron James informing the Miami Heat that he’ll be opting out of the final two years of the contract he signed with them in order to explore free agency once again. Though this doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be leaving Miami, the door is now wide open for other teams to make their pitch to the most marketable, and arguably the most dynamic, player currently getting about in the NBA.
The move comes after the Heat failed to complete a three-peat, going down to the San Antonio Spurs in the recent NBA Finals, and mirrors LeBron’s unceremonious exit from the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010; a saga that culminated in the uniquely ridiculous “The Decision” special aired live on ESPN.
The move to Miami heralded the formation of the Heat’s so-called “Big Three,” consisting of James, Dwayne Wade, and
The Lizard Wizard Chris Bosh. Four consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals followed for two championship rings – the Heat’s first trip to the finals in 2011 ended in a surprise loss at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks.
James’ decision to opt-out of the contract immediately gives Miami a lot of flexibility in the upcoming trade and draft period, whilst simultaneously not ruling out the opportunity for LeBron to stay put.
With Miami looming as a strong candidate to retain the services of LeBron, other teams with big cases to make for the superstar player include the Chicago Bulls, the Houston Rockets, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Of those, it’s the Bulls and Rockets who look like the best fit, with little-to-no other rebuilding needed in order to contend immediately.
And for James, where once it might have been about getting paid, now it’s about creating a legacy.
The man is chasing rings. Wherever he lands better clear space in the rafters for some new banners.
Photo: Andy Lyons via Getty Images.