After a startling defeat at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals, LeBron was left with more questions than answers. His dynamic duo of teammates, Wade and Bosh, were nowhere to be found when he needed them the most. A team with only one current all-star dominated a team that was built on dominance. For the first time since “The Decision” and the preseason pep rally where the Heat resembled the Monstars, LeBron isn’t certain that he’s on the best team in the league. Conveniently enough, James had an opt-out clause this summer and by exercising it, he has shaken up the entire league.
LeBron James has one thing in abundance this summer. That thing is options. But with each option comes a unique set of circumstances that may decide whether or not he sees those situations as attractive. I will analyze a few of his top options and some other possibilities that are unlikely but still interesting to think about.
The first and most likely outcome of James’ free agency is a return to the Miami Heat with assurances that the team will be built with more balance in mind. The last edition of the Heat was based on the dominance of LeBron James and the perceived dominance of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Wade and Bosh can’t pretend to be dominant anymore. So the Heat have to present a team to LeBron that he can depend on to help him on his quest for more championships. LeBron wants a team that features players that can carry their own weight at every position. Opting out was James’ way of forcing the issue on Heat management.
The second team that has been mentioned in the pursuit of James’ services is the Houston Rockets. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has been known to be aggressive in pursuit of his targets. He engineered a trade to acquire James Harden at the beginning of the 2012 season and signed Dwight Howard in free agency during the summer of 2013. Adding LeBron to Harden and Howard would send shockwaves around the league. James’ perimeter defense coupled with Howard’s interior defense has the potential to be dominant. On the offensive end, Harden is more than capable of lessening the burden on James’ shoulders. Both James and Harden can be facilitators and finishers for an efficient offense and can be devastating in transition. Their games compliment each other enough to give opposing defenses fits.
The next option for LeBron James is unique because it would be a major step towards completely reshaping his rehabilitated image in the consciousness of basketball fans around the world. Returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers would shift the balance of power in the East back in Cleveland’s direction. This time, he’ll have far more help than when he last wore the wine and gold. Kyrie Irving is a budding star and the Cavaliers also drafted Andrew Wiggins with the No. 1 pick. That gives them two young stars to welcome King James back to his original throne in Cleveland. From a basketball standpoint, LeBron to the Cavs is intriguing. But from a PR perspective, it’s golden.
While those are the main teams that LeBron will probably look at during the free agency period, there are still more options to chose from. The LA Clippers have been monitoring the situation and understand that James would love to play on the same team as his best friend in the NBA, Chris Paul. Plenty of teams have enough cap room for the max contract. The Dallas Mavericks have already started to put together their pitch for him. The Charlotte Hornets, Washington Wizards, and Phoenix Suns are other playoff teams that could give LeBron close to a maximum salary while providing him with good enough supporting casts to make some noise come playoff time.
Once again, LeBron James has a big decision to make and the whole world is watching. It will be interesting to see where he ends up and what the rest of the league does about it.