Report: LeBron James “Very Likely” Staying In Miami

With the Heat on vacation like the rest of the NBA, now everyone is wondering what LeBron James and the rest of his Heat mates will do with early termination options this summer. James hasn’t said what his plans are moving forward, but a recent report from the Sporting News’ Sean Deveney cites a source who claims James is “very likely” to stay with the Heat — at least in the short term.

Per the Sporting News:

With the way the Heat played against San Antonio, the fear in Miami has been that James would bolt this summer, looking for a situation with younger stars and a deeper roster. But a source close to the situation said that, while no final decisions have been made, James “is very likely” to stay in Miami.

The source indicated that James remembers all too well the way he was pilloried for leaving Cleveland four years ago, and that he has worked hard to rebuild his public perception. He feels the team can still win in Miami, and bolting while the team is still of championship caliber will undo the remaking of his image.

Even if James stays, how do the Heat keep him in town and on what kind of deal? He can opt in for next season only to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He can opt out, then re-sign with the Heat for a long-term deal, but the way the Spurs manhandled the Heat during the 2014 Finals has to be at the forefront of his mind right now, so a long-term deal could lock him into a situation where he’s not really competing for a title surrounded by Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and a substandard supporting cast — at least in comparison to San Antonio.

With four MVP awards and two titles, adding to the latter number is all that remains for James’ legacy, and he has to know that as he comes up on his 30th birthday this December.

According to Deveney, “The most likely scenario is for James to opt out and re-sign on a short-term deal, probably three years with a player option after the second season.”

That allows him the flexibility to leave if the Heat don’t acquire players to compete for a title, while also putting theoretical questions about his future on hold — until next summer, that is. James is all about the rings, but he’s leery of leaving Miami, where Pat Riley and the front office have done their best to earn his trust, acquiring Ray Allen in the summer of 2012 and other pieces to help the Heat over the championship hurdle in 2012 and 2013.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported today James is still undecided, but he’s likely to opt-out, either to go elsewhere, or more likely sign a short-term deal like Deveney mentioned:

After finding a championship formula in Miami, which led to four consecutive Finals appearances, not to mention a beautiful and warm-weather city to call home, James is still undecided on whether to stay. The Heat have hoped that James would be so pleased with these past four years that this phase would have been just a formality.

That is just not the case — but it is not catastrophic either. The Heat have built plenty of trust and capital with James and have established a track record of stability and success that is almost unmatched in the league. The ability to follow through on promises made is rare in the NBA, and the Heat, for the most part, have kept them. Miami also has an unmistakable advantage not of its own doing: It plays in the Eastern Conference.


The Heat are the favorites; this is not in question. But there is a window of doubt due to the way the season ended, Wade’s health and some bitterness James harbors that Micky Arison put the brakes on spending over the past year.

With the Spurs clearly the top team in the league and the Pacers nipping at the Heat’s heels in the Eastern Conference, LeBron’s less likely to commit long-term to the Heat until he’s provided a better opportunity to win. Whether that means somehow adding Carmelo Anthony to the Big Three or some other scenario, remains to be seen.

We’re still pretty early in the process, as LeBron vacations with his family and unwinds from a difficult season where he shouldered more of the load as Wade sat out 28 regular-season games. James isn’t likely to leave in free agency this summer after the trust he’s built up with the Heat, they’ve appeared in the Finals in each of his seasons in town, but he has doubts about their long-term viability, according to Windhorst. The question now becomes how will his next contract look and how long does he stay in Miami if they can’t retool?

(Sporting News; ESPN)

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