The Heatles are dead. The three-peat didn’t happen. It seems that now we have LeBron running for the hills after Miami’s disappointing end to the season, losing in five games to the Spurs. James has opted out of his contract with the Miami Heat of which he still has two years and almost $43 million remaining. This doesn’t come as an utter shock as some pundits are making it out to be. One of the player-friendly benefits of the most recent collective bargaining agreement put rules in place so a player can opt out of his contract to pursuer more money, better stability, or just a change of scenery without being tied completely to the entirety of their contract. LeBron can choose to continue his career with the Heat if he doesn’t find greener pastures elsewhere, and this is totally, one hundred percent something the players have earned. After The Decision in 2010, one has to hope James has learned his lesson of making a spectacle of himself and will possibly choose another team without such harsh criticism and scrutiny. His decision to leave Miami certainly brings out the speculators and trade-machine guru’s throughout the media and the NBA fan base, leading us to figure out where the hell LeBron is going to land.
There are currently rumors all over the place, especially since James’ decision comes paired with another stars': Carmelo Anthony will opt out of his contract with the Knicks, leading to major speculation that the two will join up and create another foreboding super team like we saw with James, Wade, and Bosh years ago. “Sources” are telling ESPN that teams are terribly interested in clearing cap space to pursue both max-contract players. Right now, according to Ramona Shellbourne, teams like the Hawks, Cavs, and Lakers, are more than toying with the idea of wooing both. James’ homecoming to Cleveland has been talked about for years, but it would take wonders for LeBron to dump himself into Dan Gilbert’s nightmare of an organization once again. Sure, they have the young talent that could potentially compete for a championship, but their four number one picks in five years probably won't convince LeBron that the Cavs are capable of running a competent franchise. BUT! They have the cap space, so you never know. . .
The Lakers are rumored to be trying to trade their draft pick with Steve Nash’s expiring contract to free up some room. Look for their seemingly pristine luck with beginning a new championship contender right at the end of an old one. Kobe’s nearing the end, and how fitting would it be for the Lakers to take in LeBron and Carmelo and transtion effortlessly to another decade of contention just as they’ve done in the past. The Clippers are in the discussion as well. Chris Paul and LeBron are great friends, and Paul’s experience within the player’s association (and Doc Rivers as a coach) automatically solidifies the team’s persona as a mature one, but the Clippers would have to dump a ton of contracts and hope more than a few players opt out to be able to afford both Carmelo and LeBron. These all depend on a few factors, most importantly if LeBron and Carmelo actually do want to team up together. Since chatter began surrounding Carmelo’s free agent peruse, Chicago seemed the most plausible to land him. Melo thrives with a solid big man, and he would certainly benefit from having someone like Joakim Noah behind him. Combine that with the obvious talents of Derrick Rose, and role players like Boozer and Butler, it’s safe to say the addition of Carmelo would make the Bulls a seriously gnarly team. But if all of what we’re hearing is true of LeBron and Melo running off together, a Bulls destination would be a no go.
A slim, very slim, possible landing spot for LeBron could maybe be Philadelphia. And of course, here in Philly, people are not shutting the fuck up about it. Turn on any radio show on the Fanatic and you’ll hear “THE TOP TEN REASONS WHY LEBRON WILL COME TO THE SIXERS” and “HOW COULD HE NOT COME HERE” and “CHARLES BARKLEY SAID HE’D WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP WITHIN FIVE YEARS IF HE CAME HERE HOW CAN WE NOT BELIEVE CHUCK?” It’s exhausting. Philadelphia is closer to Akron than Miami. Yes, true, good job Philly fans. Very correct. His new TV show takes place not in Ohio, not Miami, but Philadelphia. Yes, true, good job Philly fans. Very correct. The CEO of the 76ers, Scott O’Neil, was a member of the Knicks organization when they tried to get Lebron in 2010. Hmmm, go on. The Sixers have $34 million in cap space, the most of any team leading into next season. Okay maybe this isn’t so far-fetched. I’m going to put it out there right now and say I, for sure, don’t believe LeBron will end up with the Sixers. But it is possible, considering the bright future for this team. There’s the rookie of the Year in Michael Carter Williams, who LeBron witnessed almost become the second player since Oscar Robertson to record a triple double in his first professional game (I was at that game holding my breath in a playoff atmosphere begging for Williams to get just one more steal). There’s Nerlens Noel, a top pick from the Jrue Holliday trade, who seems to be on pace to start and be healthy next season. There’s the third and tenth overall pick in the draft, where even with Embiid’s injury the Sixers should expect to get either Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins. It’s just one of those things. It seems crazy. But maybe it’s not.
Let’s get this straight: LeBron will end up where he’ll end up and there’s no way in hell it’ll be anything close to his TV special like last time. Hell, he could very well stay in Miami. Look forward to the next few months. Take in the enormous amounts of speculation and anonymous source reports, breathe deep the infinite possibilities people will write and comment about on TV. As much as we all complain about the coverage, moves like these don’t come along very often. We’re still in the prime of LeBron’s career, arguably the best player in the history of basketball, so let’s take a step back and enjoy all the bullshit while we can, and let LeBron James walk off comfortably to the next saga of his incredible career. I think he deserves it.