LeBron James said he doesn’t know if he’ll return to the Miami Heat next season. He has to talk it over with his family, the team’s front office, plus Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh – presumably in that order.
The Heat got cranked in the NBA Finals, losing 4-1 to the San Antonio Spurs. Miami looked bad because the Spurs looked so good. James played well, but his teammates did not. James, Wade and Bosh all have early termination options, so perhaps it’s time to mix things up a bit on South Beach.
Despite San Antonio’s convincing triumph, Miami would still be the team to beat in the Eastern Conference next season if James, Wade and Bosh all return. Getting to the Finals is half the battle, and the Heat has done it all four years the Big Three have been together.
The Western Conference figures to be another fist fight next season. Word is the Spurs’ roster will maintain intact, which makes them the favorites. However, early betting lines actually favor the OKC Thunder. Other Western threats are the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets.
Thunder fans had better hope the Heat doesn’t break up the band. Keeping the Big Three together and filling out the rest of the Miami roster with a cast of minimum wagers is the best counter-weight that title contenders can hope for when it comes to turning down the Heat.
A much scarier proposition could arise if James roams free.
James could return to Cleveland, where talented point guard Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and this year’s No. 1 draft pick await. Another possibility relocation for James is Chicago, where he could pair up with point guard Derrick Rose.
James also could head west. The Los Angeles Lakers have Kobe Bryant and roughly $30 million in salary cap space waiting.
Add the Rockets and Clippers to the list.
If the Rockets could unload Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik and pawn Chandler Parsons in an appealing sign-and-trade, there would be room for James.
The Clippers could make room by trading DeAndre Jordan and Jamal Crawford and unloading Jared Dudley.
Again, we’re just spit-balllin’ here, but James, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin with the Clippers? Ouch.
Odds where LeBron James will play his first game of the 2014-2015 NBA season?
1-3: Miami Heat
7-2: Cleveland Cavaliers
13-2: Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets
15-1: Los Angeles Clippers
Odds to win NBA title, depending where James and Carmelo Anthony play next year:
Knicks if Carmelo Anthony leaves: 40-1 (current); 75-1 (new)
Heat if LeBron leaves: 7-2; 25-1
Heat if they sign Anthony (LeBron/Bosh/Wade stay): 7-2; 5-2
Bulls if they sign Anthony: 10-1; 5-1
Rockets if they sign Anthony: 16-1; 9-1
Mavericks if they sign Anthony: 33-1; 16-1
Lakers if they sign Anthony: 25-1; 12-1
Bulls if they sign LeBron: 10-1; 2-1
Rockets if they sign LeBron: 16-1; 5-1
Mavericks if they sign LeBron: 33-1; 6-1
Cavaliers if they sign LeBron: 25-1; 3-1
Lakers if they sign LeBron: 25-1; 11-2