If he wants to, LeBron James can pack up his bags and wave goodbye to the Miami Heat this offseason. As soon as he has done that, he would receive a contract offer from every team in the NBA with enough money to procure his services (and even some without) because he is that good. But he won’t do that – according to his teammates anyway.
Ethan Skolnick, Bleacher Report’s insider, is pretty convinced James will stay in South Florida because, “some of those closest to him will be surprised.”
“That includes his teammates, those with whom he’s spent most of his time for the past eight months, those with whom he tends to communicate most freely. They haven’t wanted to touch this topic on the record, at least not honestly and completely, but some have privately pooh-poohed—even eye-rolled—the ‘leaving’ chatter for months. They continued to do so even after Cleveland won the lottery on Tuesday.”
To be honest, most of us would be surprised if LeBron James skipped town. I mean, why would he leave the Heat? Of all the teams reportedly after his services, Miami is the only one that can guarantee title contention right away.
Let’s start with chemistry. This Miami Heat have essentially been unchanged for the past two seasons with the core players and the majority of the role players sticking around for one more run. Having at least 11 guys return to the same team is pretty rare in the NBA, since there is such an emphasis on improvement and never staying comfortable with the same roster because other teams are constantly evolving and complacency may set in.
Nonetheless, Miami has done it and it has worked out since they find themselves on yet another deep playoff run and it is due to that chemistry which has got them through the toughest of times – the Eastern Conference being awful also helped a little, but the point still remains.
While Dwyane Wade was missing 28 games throughout the regular season, the constant lineup change was a key point of emphasis for James, because there wasn’t that one guy that was known as the automatic replacement and that messed with the chemistry a little bit. But then the playoffs came and the transition to involve Wade in the team was seamless. Why? Because the team has been together for so long and they know each other’s game inside out.
If James where to go to say, Cleveland, who could very well be the favorites for his signature if he chose to depart, then he would have to find a way to get acclimated with a new set of teammates and most importantly, figure out a way to co-exist with Kyrie Irving.
Irving is a superstar in his own right and, but LeBron James is the best player on planet Earth. By default, he would be the one with ball in his hands most of the time and the go to guy in crunch time. Therefore Irving, one of the better players in the Association, will have to take a back seat because you can’t have two alpha males.
That would be similar to the situation Miami was in back when the big three first joined forces with Wade and James both jostling for the “Batman” role. Eventually Wade yielded and the Heat made it to three straight NBA Finals.
And then there’s the coaching.
Erik Spoelstra is no doubt one the best coaches in the game and only a few can make a case to being better than him – i.e. Gregg Popovich, Doc Rivers and Rick Carlisle. The latter could very end up coaching James in Dallas – I’d be a fool to think Mark Cuban and the Mavericks won’t make a play for what could be the biggest prize in free agency this summer – but it may be a long shot considering he didn’t even want to sit down with the Mavs back in 2010.
Cleveland doesn’t even have a coach in place yet, and the names swirling in the rumor mill aren’t quite as decorated as Spoelstra.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are aggressively mining the college ranks in their coaching search, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) May 21, 2014
According to Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, the Cavs aren’t ruling out making move for a college coach with the likes of John Calipari having their name thrown about in the conversation. Then again his 72-112 record from his first stint doesn’t exactly build your confidence in him at the next level. George Karl, last season’s NBA Coach of the Year, is reportedly interested in the coaching vacancy and his wealth of experience in the league would be a bonus but he doesn’t have the backing of a championship to his name.
Sure, some may argue that was the same when James joined Miami in 2010 but back then he didn’t have the comfort of knowing that Pat Riley was pulling the strings and it was his successor running the show now.
The latest name to be linked with the Cavaliers is Alvin Gentry, who did an admirable job with the Phoenix Suns but again, he’s no Erik Spoelstra.
As for James heading to the Los Angeles Clippers, Donald Sterling has all but crushed that pipe dream.