LeBron James reportedly decided to opt out of his contract with the Miami Heat on Tuesday. Here's a few quick thoughts of what this 'Decision' means to me.
1. CONTROL: He's the best player by far on the planet so it's his contractual right to exercise this clause and I agree with him. Old-timers and traditionalists might not like it but it's the reality of pro sports in the 21st century. Great actors/actresses set the tone and select what movies/plays they want to perform in and who they want to work with and for and LeBron is at that level in the "sports/entertainment industry" that former NBA commissioner David Stern created with the emphasis on 'stars' over teams. This is a creation of that. Right, wrong or indifferent - it is what it is. He's negotiated and earned the right to reconsider and re-explore what he'd like to do with his career. The man is serious about his game and is a student of the game and wants/needs some space here to evaluate.
2. MIAMI HEAT: We all saw them with our own eyes in the NBA Finals vs. the Spurs. The reality is that the current team as constructed needs major improvements or they won't challenge against the superior Western Conference teams for an NBA title. In addition, if an Eastern team like the Chicago Bulls gets back a healthy Derrick Rose and is able to acquire Kevin Love and/or Carmelo Anthony who is to say that they're even the No. 1 contender in the East anymore? Do you honestly believe that Dwyane Wade is going to give you 70-75+ regular season games and four playoff rounds at a high level at $20 million per year? Is Chris Bosh still committed to playing in all areas of the game rather than just becoming a jump shooter? If I'm LeBron I have my doubts. A few smart tweaks with Wade and Bosh sacrificing some money opens up the possibility of it all working again...yet it's far from a sure thing.
3. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: Owner Dan Gilbert blasted LeBron on the way out the door after "The Decision". Does LeBron forgive and forget? Does new GM David Griffin have the wherewithal/pedigree to pull off such a heist? He and Kyrie Irving together - not bad. They have the No. 1 Pick and some talented young guys they can package to move to Minnesota for Kevin Love. How does Irving, Love and LeBron sound to you? It would be a better Big Three at this point that the Miami version even though both Love and Irving have put up "numbers", yet still haven't shown me yet that they're truly special. What a return this would be.
4. OTHER SUITORS (Chicago, Houston, LA Lakers): You'll hear about all three and more in the hunt for the King. Needless to say, you put him on the Bulls or Rockets and they're in the hunt for a title. The Lakers? Kobe and LeBron would be an interesting pairing but what does the rest of the roster look like? How long does Kobe hold up? Lots more questions than answers in LA. The rumour mill will surely be filled with gossip from all three of these spots.
5. TORONTO RAPTORS: Not saying this because it's wishful thinking on my part. Seriously, why not? They desperately need a starting small forward. You put him with a re-signed Kyle Lowry, Demar DeRozan, a re-signed Patrick Patterson and Jonas Valanciunas with a re-signed Greivis Vasquez, Terrence Ross and Amir Johnson and I'll take my chances with anyone in the East. On a league-wide scale I'm not scared by anyone with that crew on my side. You want hoops to grow in Toronto and across the country - go for it. Nothing to lose. Realistic? Maybe not but honestly that's not a bad eight-man core whatsoever. Obviously, the salary cap/luxury tax always comes into play but for a player of this magnitude you explore every possibility. It would actually be a very good team if it ever happened. Why not Toronto? It's about time we stick our chests out and go for it. I like the style of GM Masai Ujiri and CEO Tim Leiweke and this fits them if it's a reasonable pursuit.