LeBron James can opt out of his contract with the Miami Heat after the 2013-2014 season. The NBA’s golden child with advertising deals ranging from Samsung to Nike, could be looking to change addresses in a couple summers. Just as Samsung made James the center of their marketing campaign, a prospective team may do the same in short time. (As an aside, the Galaxy commercials worked on at least one consumer, as I upgraded my iPhone to a Galaxy S4 with the android operating system and haven’t looked back.) When it comes to James though, it’s never too early to start speculating. Wherever he decides to play next, he will alter the landscape of the NBA instantly. It is impossible to know just what he is thinking, but one thing is certain, James is cognizant of his place in basketball history and will only consider title contending teams. With that in mind let’s take a look at some of the possibilities for LeBron including the likelihood of the potential destinations, Without further adieu, here are the destinations:
1. Miami Heat
James, Bosh, and Wade all have player options for 2014-2015 and 2015-2016. The big three could all choose to exercise their player options and stick together for two more runs at the championship. The only other commitments the Heat have on the books those seasons are Mike Miller, Joel Anthony and Udonis Haslem. They could easily bring in veterans looking to win one a championship before they go out as they did with Shane Battier and Ray Allen.
Likelihood: High, South Beach living and playing with his closest friends too hard to overcome for other teams.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
This would be a scenario never seen before in the NBA, or perhaps any sport. Lebron left Cleveland with fans burning his jersey and a feeling of betrayal throughout the fanbase. After winning the draft lottery on Tuesday night though, the Cavs look to have a strong, young nucleus in 2014-2015 with Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, and most likely Nerlens Noel along with the cap space to bring in James and another max contract player. If James chose to return to Cleveland, the Cavs would boast three former number one overall picks (James, Irving, and Noel). James could get back in the good graces of Cleveland and have a much better roster than his first go-round there.
Likelihood: Unlikely but fascinating, just seems like the fans and owner burnt all bridges with James.
3. Los Angeles Lakers
This option is most likely contingent on Kobe Bryant retiring and the Lakers retaining the services of Dwight Howard. The Lakers have a serious talent problem on their roster now, but LeBron is capable of attracting talent to join him. He could choose to play for the league’s premier historic team and experience living on the West Coast for a few years.
Likelihood: Unlikely, I don’t believe LeBron would consider LA, but you can never count out the Lakers to bring in the league’s best players.
4. New York Knicks
Not really feasible, more of a pipe dream from a long suffering Knicks fan. To even be feasible the Heat would have to sign-and-trade LeBron for Amare’s expiring contract. It won’t happen but until LeBron makes his next decision I can dream of Melo and LeBron teaming up for an unstoppable offense. At this stage, Knicks fans probably have more of a chance at winning the jackpot at an android casino than LeBron joining the team – But I’m sure they will be keeping their hopes up while he assesses his options.
Likelihood: 0.0000000001%. (ie. It’s not happening)
5. Indiana Pacers
Indiana has George Hill and Paul George locked into great deals and Roy Hibbert is an imposing force in the middle. Adding the reigning MVP to that core would give the Pacers the most complete starting five and make them the perennial Eastern Conference favorites. In addition, they would still have the cap space to bring in another star.
Likelihood: Outside shot, depends on the development of Hill and George.