LeBron James to Exit Miami Contract (The Decision II)
Blown championships, a good reason to cut ties with Miami?
Weren't we just here yesterday? Man, four years went by fast.
When comparing the Cleveland 2010 and Miami 2014 situations for LeBron James, many qualitative doppelgängers are in place --
Post-season run ending in a soul-crushing fashion? Check.
Frustration with a rickety supporting cast? Check.
Concerns about legacy, place in league history and number of titles, specifically chasing Michael Jordan (and maybe turning 30 being part of that now)? Check.
And, for now, the most important similarity of all of them, LeBron's willingly choosing to see what the market has to offer, to sniff around and kick tires on other possibilities to see if chasing Jordan can be a reality (in Miami or anywhere) or if he's just chasing the wind.
Because according to reports this morning, that's exactly what will be happening. "The Decision, Part II" is nigh.
The barrage of tweets came around 8:30 a.m. Central Time on Tuesday morning, and they were fast and furious:
LeBron James' agent Rich Paul has told Heat LeBron will exercise early termination option— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) June 24, 2014
LeBron James' agent, Rich Paul, confirms to USAT that he told Heat LeBron will use his early termination option to become a free agent.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) June 24, 2014
LeBron James will opt-out of deal, source confirms. He's determined to impose pressure on Miami to improve roster and spend, sources say.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 24, 2014
Per ESPN, LeBron James' agent informed Heat he will opt out. Let the fun begin.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 24, 2014
(Sidebar: Um, hey, Schefter. Stay in your lane, bro. I don't see Adrian Wojnarowski or Sam Amick tweeting out football scoops or NFL coaching rumors. Leave some meat on the bone for everybody else, Breaking News Hog!)
Unlike in 2010, it seems far more likely that LeBron winds up staying where he is, perhaps under a short-term deal (one year or maybe two years with an opt-out) of some sort, than leaving Cleveland as he did under the most bile-inducing fashion in 2010, made-for-TV special and all.
I listed the similarities between 2010 and 2014 in the opening to this post, but there are some stark differences as well:
1. Comparing the chain of command in Miami to that in Cleveland in 2010 is a bit like comparing leadership at Apple to the leadership at Dunder Mifflin. (Take your pick as to who plays Cleveland's role of "Michael Scott." Dan Gilbert, Danny Ferry and Mike Brown are all worthy candidates.) LeBron rightfully seems to have massive respect for Miami ownership and management, and that's a good thing for Miami because quite frankly, LeBron's trust in Pat Riley would be the main asset they have going for them right now. There isn't much else there, assuming that Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are coming back at their current salary levels.
2. LeBron chose to go to Miami; he was drafted to go to Cleveland (although, yes, he signed an extension in Cleveland along the way as well). Point being, LeBron would seem to have more emotionally invested in his ready-made team with his close friends (Wade, Bosh) than he may have with the revolving door of futile attempts at a supporting cast around him in Cleveland (all of the fake camera posing gestures notwithstanding).
3. LeBron himself is likely more mature than he was in 2010, and the perceived "mature" thing to do is to show loyalty and a "finish what you started" determination. I don't necessarily agree with that notion, but I think LeBron will catch far less societal heat for staying in Miami, even for a year, than he would jumping into another uniform.
For what it's worth, sportsbook.ag had odds on where LeBron would start the 2014-2015 season and Miami was the overwhelming favorite at -800. To put that in plain English, if Carmelo's -300 odds to go to Chicago are "somebody knows something" levels, then -800 odds for LeBron to return to Miami are "LeBron's wife might be setting the lines" levels.
Once sportsbook.ag puts the revised odds back up, we will evaluate them team by team in a separate post, but know these three things:
1. Every single team in the NBA will drop everything they're doing, callously gut their rosters as much as they possibly can, and promise primae noctis on all of their cheerleaders and daughters if LeBron even sends so much as a text saying "Sup?" to their owner. EVERY. SINGLE. TEAM.
2. LeBron's opting out of his deal is great for business -- great for the NBA, great for television, great for radio, great for a slappy like me cobbling together 1,000 words on a Tuesday morning about LeBron opting out of his deal. My contention is that Adam Silver would love for LeBron to do one-year deals every year and make LeBron's "decision" an annual event, like the All Star Game or the NBA Draft lottery.
3. Dan Gilbert has immediately become the poster child for "any time you type an angry text or email late at night, go to bed before hitting SEND." (We can put this Gilbert poster next to the other Gilbert poster for "don't ever use Comic Sans font size 37 to get your point across.")
4. Daryl Morey might be twiddling his fingers and diabolically smirking somewhere, like some math-geek combination of Monty Burns and Emperor Palpatine, muttering "Eeeeexcellent....things are progressing exactly as I have foreseeeeeen...."
Actually, it's not "might be." Daryl Morey is definitely doing that right now.
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