In the biggest free-agency bonanza to ever hit the NBA, LeBron James is the first domino that has to fall before everyone else figures out their next move. From D-Wade all the way down to Brian Scalabrine, you could say every other free agent’s future will in some way be affected by LeBron’s decision.
With the official start of free agency set for 12:01 a.m. Wednesday night/Thursday morning, we decided to look at each team believed to be in the running for LeBron and delve into the reasons why LBJ would and wouldn’t (or should and shouldn’t) sign with them. First up: The Miami Heat.
PROS — For just a second, put aside the latest gospel of Stephen A. Smith, whose “sources” have told him that the arrival of LeBron and Chris Bosh to Miami is all but imminent, and ask yourself: Is there a more appropriate spot for LeBron than South Florida? In the midst of the glitz and glamour that surrounds South Beach nightlife lies a basketball team in need of a player capable of shining in the limelight. Who better to fill that void than the “King” himself?
Apparently the Heat and Pat Riley are trying to answer that very question. Having dumped more payroll than anyone anticipated, the Heat have only two players under contract for next season (Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers), one of whom they’re actively shopping (Beasley). That leaves the team with enough money to sign a minimum of two of the biggest free agents to max contracts, with the potential for a third.
Right on cue, after the Heat used the Draft as a dumping ground for Daequan Cook‘s salary, Stephen A. made the announcement regarding LeBron and Bosh’s plans to join Dwyane Wade in Miami. Even without a third superstar, the team will have other free agents lining up for the chance to play with a superstar tandem, especially if Riley can convince Wade to stay. The Heat are facing an historic opportunity to sell out American Airlines Arena for the next five years if they can get the necessary deals done, and they’ve set themselves up perfectly.
CONS — The Heat have undoubtedly sliced their roster in hopes of signing more than just one of the current free agent crop, but therein lies the problem: As the biggest star in the NBA, will LeBron want to share the limelight in Miami? A team boasting LeBron, Wade and Bosh has nightmarish potential for any coach, including one as intelligent as Riley (who you know will seriously considering taking his spot back from Erik Spoelstra if Miami brings in a haul of superstars).
When and if things go sour in Miami, though, who will take the blame? Who’s going to ask for more shots? Who will be the first of the superstars to make a stupid post-game remark? As much as the thought of adding LeBron has Heat fans salivating, any team that boasts more than one superstar has obvious potential for a fair share of problems. If he decided on Los Angeles, LeBron would be the Clippers’ go-to star, surrounded by quality young talent. The situation is similar in Chicago, where Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah have earned reputations as two of the rising stars in the League. Of course, there also lies the challenge of joining the Knicks and shaping the fate of a franchise in the biggest sports market in the world. In Miami, however, the question marks that abound regarding the supporting cast might prove somewhat of a detriment to the Heat’s pursuit of King James.
ODDS — 10 to 1. Though a decent bet, nothing can be sure in an unpredictable summer of big-name free agency. Depending on LeBron’s talks with other available free agents, he may very well be making the debut of jersey #6 in black and red next season.