LeBron has options, but he’s not going anywhere


The Miami Heat's LeBron James (6) has his shot blocked by the San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard during the second half in Game 4 of the NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena in Miami, June 12, 2014.

MONTANA BURKE | Evergreen columnist

“Obviously, I didn’t do enough,” LeBron James said in the post-game conference that followed the San Antonio Spurs’ 104-87 win over the Miami Heat that concluded a 4-1 finals series. Is this true?

James had 31 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists. He spent the beginning of the game as the point guard on offense and defense, hounding Tony Parker into a 0-for-7 start from the field. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh scored a combined 24 points on 26 shots. James was playing great basketball, but his supporting cast was completely absent.

With the superstar’s ability to opt out of his contract and force his way into any team in the league, one must ask: Where will he play next year?

Where James goes this off-season will impact not only his future but also the future of the entire league. He led the Cleveland Cavaliers with little supporting cast to the 2007 NBA Finals. He then led the Miami Heat, who looked a lot like the Cavaliers do right now, to four consecutive final appearances and two NBA titles in 2012 and 2013.

Many think because the circumstances of the 2007 and 2014 off-seasons appear similar, James will once again leave his team for greener pastures. However, these circumstances are actually quite different.

To name one difference, James has already left one team for something better, and as I recall that wasn’t the best public relations move. He went from universally loved to universally hated outside of the Heat fan club. Aside from that team’s fans, everyone seemed to root against him, none wanting to see him win. While even today he receives a tremendous amount of hate, much of it dissipated after he won each of his two titles. It seems unlikely he would want to go through that again.

Some might think James will leave because the Heat roster needs work – just as Cleveland’s roster did. But James trusts that Miami can recruit better than a team in another market can build a roster around him.

Cleveland was and still is a poorly run program that has trouble recruiting, drafting and managing talent. Since James’ departure, the team has had four top-5 draft picks yet maintains its losing record. The Cavaliers fired coach Mike Brown for incompetence, rehired him two years later and fired him again for contributing to that record.

The Heat and its general manager Pat Riley have proven they can assemble a championship-winning team, while Erik Spoelstra has proven himself as a competent coach. What’s more, James likes Miami – his wife Savannah opened a juice bar there, and his two sons are elementary school students.

Assuming every member of the Big Three opts out of his contract, the Heat would have only Norris Cole and Chris Andersen on its payroll, leaving millions to spend on any player that James might want to play with – Carmelo Anthony, perhaps?

Staying cool with the Heat is by far James’ best option, and if you ask me, he wouldn’t have it any other way.