LeBron James' Future With Heat Uncertain

Posted: Jun 16 2014, 6:06pm CDT | by , in Latest Sports News


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LeBron James' Future With Heat Uncertain
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Four-time NBA MVP LeBron James' future with the Miami Heat is now a question mark after their 4-1 NBA Finals loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

Four-time NBA MVP LeBron James' future with the Miami Heat is now a question mark after their 4-1 NBA Finals loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

ESPN's Brian Windhorst discussed this in his June 16 article:

"At least there is no more wait-and-see for LeBron James.

"As miserable as it was for James to suffer a one-sided NBA Finals defeat to the San Antonio Spurs, it did provide him with some clarity. After putting off getting serious about his free-agent decision for nine months, he now realizes the status quo will not be necessary.

"The Miami Heat, quite clearly, are no longer a championship team and are in need of some changes. James will want to hear about plans for those changes before he chooses a path.

"James is in an extremely powerful position. He is a player in his prime with the right path to be an unrestricted free agent and the off-court financial independence to be flexible in his salary. This will allow him to exert his power in the constructin of a roster.

"Focused on legacy and building a brand that will allow him to increase his earnings in retirement like Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, James may be willing to sacrifice some money in the short term in order to yield dividends in the future. Doing so would apply pressure to teammates to do the same.

"However, James does not lack perspective. The defeat to the Spurs does not undo the success the Heat have had over the past four seasons.

"One of the tenets Heat president Pat Riley has sold to James -- and one he'lll likely remind James of before his opt-out decision before the June 29 deadline -- is the value of being in a team that gives you a broad window. The Heat have proven they can do that.

"There certainly are outrageous scenarios in play. The option for James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to all opt out of their contracts and take pay cuts to make room for a star free agent such as Carmelo Anthony is one.

"The idea that James would opt out and leave for a younger team with greater upside, especially if he's willing to take a pay cut, is another."

Windhorst then enumerates several factors which will ultimately affect James' decision to stay with Miami:

-- Dwyane Wade's health. The Heat guard's play was obviously hampered as this season's playoffs wore on. Should yet another procedure on his fragile knees be necessary, James will want to know how much this will affect his teammate's play moving forward.

-- Windhorst points out James might look at reducing his minutes each time out to preserve his body in time for the subsequent postseasons.

-- In Windhorst's words,"James played 400 minutes more than any teammate this season and about 1,300 more minutes than running mate Wade. This is a trend he's interested in reversing immediately. This means the Heat will have to add at least one more reliable, and ideally younger, player at his position.

-- James is also eager for the Heat to bring some key role players on board. The changes made this season were more geared toward payroll control instead of bench depth improvement -- a factor that ultimately doomed Miami in the Finals against San Antonio.

When Windhorst asked James what his immediate plans are, he said,"I haven't gotten to that point yet. You're trying to find answers but I'm not going to give you one."

For his part, Heat owner Micky Arison said on June 16 he fully expects the Big Three of James, Wade and Bosh to return next season, per Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

"On the eve of the playoffs, the expectation from Miami Heat owner Micky Arison was more of the same.

"'One hundred percent,' he said during an ESPN Radio interview of the chances of keeping his core of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh together this offseason, with all three holding the option to become free agents.

"On the eve of the NBA Finals, cornered by the Sun Sentinel, Arison stood by his optimism.

"'That's what I felt at the time,' he said. 'Still feel it now.'

"Then came the type of playoff thrashing heretofore unseen during the Heat's four-year Big Three run to four NBA Finals and two championships."

James had 31 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in the 104-87 Game 5 loss to the Spurs, relinquishing the NBA title the Heat previously held for the past two seasons.

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The Author

Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.




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