FanDuel - WFBC

June 24, 2014

LeBron Taking His Talents Out of South Beach: LeBron James will exercise his early termination option and become an unrestricted free agent, his agent Richie Paul has informed the Miami Heat. He was scheduled to make $20 million next season. In James' four seasons with the team, the Heat went to four straight NBA Finals and won two championships.

posted by Mr Bismarck to basketball at 09:46 AM - 18 comments

The way people were talking about the Heat after this Finals made them sound a lot like the Cavs when LeBron was there -- a team that would only get as far as one superstar could carry them.

posted by rcade at 09:48 AM on June 24

On the plus side, I don't think I'll have to worry about ESPN talent trying to analyze the USMNT's problems any longer.

posted by yerfatma at 09:52 AM on June 24

He could, of course, decide to take his talents right back to south beach with a brand new deal, right?

posted by Mr Bismarck at 10:12 AM on June 24

Does that ever happen with top-of-the-market free agents? A player who was amenable to staying works out a deal.

posted by rcade at 10:23 AM on June 24

If he wants to win a championship in Miami he needs to opt out and resign at a lower salary so the Heat can buy a better supporting cast. Miami is also his best bet to get to another championship as the eastern conference is horrible. $20 Million is pocket change for LeBron.

If he is after money he can go somewhere that he eats a good portion of the player budget and have no chance of being competitive.

posted by cixelsyd at 11:31 AM on June 24

Does that ever happen with top-of-the-market free agents?

If he wants to win a championship in Miami he needs to opt out and resign at a lower salary so the Heat can buy a better supporting cast

Yeah, what he really needs to do is convince Wade to opt out as well and then Miami re-signs LeBron at a below-market deal which should (but probably won't) silence some of the haters and does not re-sign Wade's aging knees. I don't think LBJ is directly comparable to other "top-of-the-market free agents" because his endorsement deals probably dwarf any contract. His Nike deal alone is thought to be worth $20 million/ year.

posted by yerfatma at 11:35 AM on June 24

Miami is also his best bet to get to another championship as the eastern conference is horrible.

I want him to go back to Cleveland and watch the owner and the haters he left behind swallow their pride and dignity and cheer for him again.

(I don't know if the current Cavs payroll has room for him, but his supporting cast would be pretty damn good...especially with another #1 pick in two days.)

posted by grum@work at 12:02 PM on June 24

If he wants to win a championship in Miami he needs to opt out and resign at a lower salary so the Heat can buy a better supporting cast.

It would help but it's not a requirement. Hell, even at max money he's wildly underpaid. If you can't put a contender around LeBron, it's not LeBron's fault.

Miami as constructed is just fine, by the way. They could transition away from their frenetic trapping, and physically demanding, defense that's been producing diminishing results and continue to rule the East with their current roster plus a few minor tweaks.

posted by tron7 at 01:07 PM on June 24

I want him to go back to Cleveland...

There is nothing I want less. Cleveland is probably the only team he could go to where I would actively root against him.

posted by tron7 at 01:09 PM on June 24

Maybe he just wants to keep his options open until he sees who the new Miami coach is going to be.

posted by beaverboard at 01:30 PM on June 24

Yeah, seems like an obvious pressure move to get Miami to do something meaningful. In addition to the endorsements mentioned above, the sale of Beats to Apple apparently delivered $30 mil on his doorstep.

posted by jeremias at 01:31 PM on June 24

And I didn't even make that, either.

posted by Bonkers at 01:49 PM on June 24

Yeah, seems like an obvious pressure move to get Miami to do something meaningful.

Partially that. But it also allows Miami the time to actually do something. He announced his decision a full week before he was required to on the 30th, which will allow Miami (and any other suitors) enough time to put together a "here's how we are going to build a championship team around you" presentation, and to negotiate that strategy with the rest of the pieces. If he had waited until the last minute, the scramble may have hindered any team's ability to give him what he actually wants, which is another championship (or 4).

posted by tahoemoj at 05:28 PM on June 24

Grantland's piece reminds me of how the salary cap rules make corporate acquisitions look like playing shop, but the motivation for LeBron isn't going to be the size of his own contract, but the prospect of a championship.

posted by etagloh at 10:08 PM on June 24

I love this - the dream team that has won 2 of the last 3 championships and has been to the finals each year is obsolete and LBJ now needs to be "pitched" on a new plan to win him some championships.

Wade and Bosh now look like the bad guys if they don't opt out, because LeBron leaves and takes all their championship hopes with him if they don't have the flexible cap space to add another star. Great set of coattails to have ridden.

Meanwhile, Duncan gets championship #5 and has nurtured a sustainable core that will survive past him. The mark of a true leader isn't just how many championships you've won, but leaving teams better off than you found them. Cleveland gutted. Miami, on the verge of gutted.

Legacies are earned, not crafted, and the subtlety seems totally lost on LeBron.

posted by dfleming at 09:36 AM on June 25

The mark of a true leader isn't just how many championships you've won, but leaving teams better off than you found them.

How many teams are really better than when a future HoF player leaves?

posted by jmd82 at 10:14 AM on June 25

The mark of a true leader isn't just how many championships you've won, but leaving teams better off than you found them.

That seems like an impossible standard for NBA greats to meet, and it's more about the organization than the player. The Bulls were terrible after Jordan left, missing the playoffs six straight years and never winning more than 30 games. That's actually slightly worse than when he found them -- they were a playoff team three years before he arrived. Nobody faults Jordan for how they fell apart after him.

I don't think Duncan is the reason for the Spurs sustained excellence any more than David Robinson was. He sets a great example with his work ethic and commitment to the game, but so do a lot of players on teams that don't win over time like the Spurs, such as Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas. The Spurs have a great front office and coach that keeps plugging in talent and gets them to buy in to the system.

posted by rcade at 10:16 AM on June 25

it's more about the organization than the player

Mostly true. The Spurs excellence is in identifying the types of personalities it needs to be competitive over the longer term. But the Spurs don't win 5 titles if Duncan (and others) are allowed to become more focused on their own situations than considering what is best for the team.

A prime example on the flip side is the Kobe and Shaq Lakers. A pretty good chance that team wins another 3 championships if it stays together. Along with 2 of the most talented players in the NBA that team had a roster with top notch role players. The organization did a great job of identifying which pieces to add but the stars essentially destroyed what management had created.

posted by cixelsyd at 01:36 PM on June 25

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