LeBron James has decided to opt out of his contract with the Miami Heat and explore the free agency market. The four time MVP and two time NBA champion has made the post season in the US a lot more interesting, not an easy feat considering the excitement of the NBA Draft on the way.
However, while James has exercised a contract clause that let him drop out with a year remaining, it does not mean he will leave the Miami Heat this summer. Instead, his decision is being viewed as a strategic one to actually stay in Miami, just with a few more assurances. Indeed, LeBron James has been pretty vocal during the season about his desire to stay at South Beach, offering numerous superlatives about the franchise.
Of course, one could view the zealous like praise of the Heat as James buttering up the franchise before leaving, but the general feeling is that he truly wants to stay. So why does a player who wants to stay drop out of his contract? Well, LeBron clearly wants to know if Miami is ready to go again, whether the franchise is ready to do the leg work and stump up the cash to build another championship winning legacy behind James.
The calls coming from the Heat suggest the organization is ready to construct the team James craves, but there is now real pressure that the Heat will lose its prized asset and the flood gates will open. Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade, the other two that make up the all-conquering triumvirate that defined Miami’s rise also have opt out clauses in their contract.
Of course, at the end of every contract saga it comes down to one thing, and that’s money. As the best player of the last five years, and arguably one of the best in history, LeBron James has a contract that perhaps doesn’t reflect his worth. He is the fifth highest paid player in the league; handsomely paid of course, but perhaps not in terms of what his talent brings. With the Heat over the next four or five years, James could earn more money than he could with any other franchise, salary cap and all.
If this is all about money then LeBron will likely stay put, but even if it is not about money it seems that Miami is still his favoured place. Whether the Miami Heat can afford to pay $130 million over the next five years and pool a team around him to become the best in the league again is debatable. Reports suggest that Wade and Bosh will both opt out of their deals and take a pay cut to help the franchise build the team that James wants. This chain of events would be favourable for Miami, but they depend on three ball players and their love of the franchise.