Jun 20, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James holds the MVP trophy and the Larry O

The Decision 2.0, Part 3 - LeBron James

Jun 20, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) motions prior to facing the San Antonio Spurs in game seven of the 2013 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

To see the first parts of this series, go here for Part 1 on Chris Bosh’s options for 2014, and here for Part 2 on Dwayne Wade’s possible paths for next summer.

Finishing up this three part-series on decision-time for the Big Three next off-season, let’s take a look at the M.V.P. of four of the past five NBA seasons, most popular player in the NBA, a now back-to-back NBA champion: LeBron James.

LeBron joined the team four summers ago with his nationally televised “Decision”.  Although the “Decision” and LeBron’s actual choice were heavily critized, Mr. James has proved his doubters wrong over the past two seasons with dominant Finals M.V.P. performances en route to two rings on his fingers (well, now three… including his wedding ring!).

LeBron has brought basketball in Miami to heights it could only of dreamed of reaching before his arrival.  Now, in quest of a third straight NBA title, James and the Heat will suit up October 29th to begin another epic journey.

But James will have to do it with the thoughts of the 2014 NBA Free Agency heavy on his mind…

Here we go, three options for LeBron James come 2014.

Apr 14, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (2) reacts against the Philadelphia 76ers during the first quarter at the Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

A. Cleveland Cavaliers

Ahead of the Heat!?  Yes, definitely ahead of the Miami Heat, and regardless of what LeBron mumbles on about this season, the Cavaliers will be the best option for him next summer.  Why?

Well, first of all, they have the best core to win in place for long-term winning, something LeBron is sure to look for when he gears up for the later stages of his career.  Uncle Drew (Kyrie Irving) is a budding star who can get buckets… and has already shown that he can do so until a very late age…

Along with Irving, the Cavaliers offer last years lottery pick Dion Waters at the two guard and the European guard Sergey Karasev from this year’s draft.  At the forward, they also have this year’s No. 1 draft’s Anthony Bennett, and 2011’s first rounder forward Tristan Thompson.  All of them are young with great potential, and most of them should be around should LeBron return to his home town.

Secondly, it makes sense for James.  He’ll likely get a nice contract from Dan Gilbert… who… if I seem to recall doesn’t really like LeBron… didn’t he say some nasty stuff… oh well, winning changes all of that!  He would be paired with a talented young group that could win for years to come.  Finally, James could return to his hometown in a dreamlike scenario to bring the Cavaliers to the promise land!

One possible variable, will the Cavalier fans be receptive to LeBron after burning his jerseys just a few short years ago.  Sure they will, as I said, winning heals the pain.

The Cavaliers have the best shot at James next off-season.  They have a talented young core, familiarity,  and a great fan base.

Jun 24, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat players cheer during the 2013 NBA championship rally at the American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

B. Miami Heat

Now by no means am I saying the Heat are underdogs in the second chase for LeBron.  The Heat have given LeBron his first taste of victory in his NBA career, and he’s openly said that he loves Miami.  Also, it’s not secret that LeBron and Wade are great friends, and their chemistry on the court has only improved over the years they’ve played together.  James also has a chance to become the face of a franchise for the years to come.  Like Jordan is to the Bulls, Bird to the Celtics, and Miller to the Pacers, he could become the guy that you think when the Miami Heat are mentioned.

To the negative, Wade is old.  Okay, so maybe he’s not incapable of playing like his old self.  But here’s a fact that might startle you, this is Wade’s ELEVENTH season.  I don’t know about you, but when I see 11 seasons, I think aging veteran.  This doesn’t bode well for LeBron’s future of winning in Miami.  Secondly, Bosh has shown that he isn’t a great number option.  Bosh has been diminished into a jump-shooter, and he’s good enough pulling the trigger from outside the paint to be a legitimate two scorer.

But maybe Wade and Bosh leave?  That would free up the Heat to sign another star to play alongside LeBron.  That would definitely be something that could keep James in town.  Another plus, the Heat now have Michael Beasley and Greg Oden.  While both haven’t done much in their careers so far, could both former lottery picks reach their full potential when playing alongside an M.V.P.?

Many will put the Heat at the head of the race for James, but an aging roster might prevent them from keeping #6 in South Beach.

C. Los Angeles Clippers or (Somewhere With Chris Paul)

While Paul is on the Clippers, superstars can demand trades.  So let’s say Paul has the ability to move somewhere at the end of next season.  LeBron and Chris have been close for a long while.  They both hinted at wanting to play with each other last time LeBron was in the free agent market.

Paul has still never won a championship.  Los Angeles is a big time market.  Doc Rivers is a great coach.  There’s a lot of positive things with the Clippers.  They also have Blake Griffin who they could possibly trade in order to make room/structure their team for LeBron.  Or, they could even deal DeAndre Jordan and other players/picks to keep Griffin in town and form a big three.  There’s a lot of possibilities here.

On the down side, James would have to play in the Western Conference, making every go at a championship that much harder for him.  But we’d get a lot of exciting James/Durant and Paul/Westbrook in the playoffs for years to come!


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