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Report: LeBron thinks “strongest option” to return to Miami; NBA executives expect that

Jun 25, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

Where’s the fun in talking about free agents staying where they are?

So when LeBron James informed the Miami Heat he was opting out of his contract media reports (including PBT’s) and twitter blew up with the possibilities — Chicago, Houston, Cleveland and a couple teams in Los Angeles. It’s not just fans, pretty much every front office around the NBA started drawing up plans, just in case.

However, the reality from the start has been LeBron almost certainly will stay in Miami. He had to opt out to put pressure on the Heat to make roster changes, make sure Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh know he was serious, and most importantly to sign for less to give Pat Riley room to maneuver.

People close to LeBron don’t think he’s leaving, reports Chris Manix at Sports Illustrated.

Thus, James opts out. But it hardly indicates a desire to leave South Beach. In fact, according to a source familiar with James’ thinking, returning to Miami remains the strongest option. James has tremendous respect for Pat Riley. He has developed a strong relationship with Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. He enjoys playing with Bosh and Wade, and still believes that core can win. It just needs a little help.

What about other executives around the league.

“I’d be surprised if he didn’t go back to Miami,” said an Eastern Conference executive.

Added another, “Why would he go anywhere? He has everything he wants in Miami.”

Much like LeBron opting out in the first place, him likely staying is not really a surprise. Pretty much every story on LeBron’s landing spots have said Miami is the most logical answer (including PBT’s).

That’s not as much fun as drawing up complex trades to get LeBron and Carmelo Anthony together with the Lakers or him and Kevin Love pairing up in Cleveland. We can play around on a trade machine and come up with three team deals and try to convince ourselves why they are likely.

But Miami has always been, by far, the most likely destination. LeBron thinks so. Most people around the league know it.

  1. fanofthegame79 - Jun 25, 2014 at 8:16 AM

    What can the Heat do to stay in championship contention? It’s not just the fact that they play in the East and can get to the Finals pretty much uncontested; however, LeBron wants to win rings, not to get to the Finals and lose because his supporting cast shrinks to nothing.

    • rrhoe - Jun 25, 2014 at 8:33 AM

      LeBron needs to wake up from that dream,he’s not winning championship’s every year,but being in contention on a yearly basis is all any player can ask for.

      • blameitonlebron - Jun 25, 2014 at 10:55 AM

        As long as Lebron stays in the east, that team will make the finals everywhere. And with some key additions to the heat a really good chance to win a ring as well. Adding lowry and couple decent role players, Heat will be good as ever.

      • fanofthegame79 - Jun 25, 2014 at 11:02 AM

        But would this Heat team – with Wade falling off like he is – even be in contention yearly? Another point is if Wade has to miss upwards of 30 games a year (regular season) for his knee maintenance plan, what will that do for wear and tear on LeBron? Wade is the sticking point. He needs to opt out and take a pretty good pay cut in order for the Heat to stay in contention.

    • miamatt - Jun 25, 2014 at 11:23 AM

      Considering the fact that we just watched the San Antonio Spurs -declared dead years ago- win a championship, and we saw the recent Boston squads stay relevant past when they “should” have been, I think it’s funny how the Heat are beyond repair in some eyes.

      Miami will always appeal to veterans looking to play for a contender late in their careers. It’s just a matter of getting the right ones, as the Heat have shown the ability to do in the past. Nobody in the East is likely to stop them for at least a couple of years.

      Pat Riley is correct on this: everybody just needs to get a grip.

    • antistratfordian - Jun 25, 2014 at 2:34 PM

      Every year is different, as we know. Miami can get back to the finals with the exact same team and have a completely different series where everything clicks and they win. They won’t have an opportunity to prove that though because James (wisely) won’t let them. But if you can win two out of the the last three titles, you can probably win three of the last four. As long as you’re in the series you have a shot.

      • fanofthegame79 - Jun 25, 2014 at 2:40 PM

        They won two of the last four titles – which is outstanding!! – but it’s not quite the 66% or 75% that you said.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 25, 2014 at 4:57 PM

        No other team is closer to 66% or 75% than Miami. The point is that the Heat know they can beat the best two teams in the West because they already have.

      • sportsfan18 - Jun 25, 2014 at 10:20 PM

        fanofthegame

        Anti said that the heat has won 2 of the last 3 finals and that is true. that IS 66%/67%

        Anti also said that they COULD (not will, but could) win the title this coming season. IF they won the title this coming season, then the would have won 3 of the last 4 which would be 75%

        And it IS just as correct to say they’ve won 2 out of the last 3 titles (because it’s true, they have) as it is to say they’ve won 2 of the last 4 titles.

        and it wouldn’t be 75% UNLESS they were to win this coming season and he didn’t say they would but that they could.

  2. patfic5 - Jun 25, 2014 at 8:19 AM

    Stay in the East Bron. The West is for the big boys.

    • southbeachtalent - Jun 25, 2014 at 9:19 AM

      You do know the Heat had a winning record against the west last year right?

      • jrob23 - Jun 25, 2014 at 10:16 AM

        imagine that. Regular season wins with the Big Three. Who woulda thought?

      • patfic5 - Jun 25, 2014 at 10:44 AM

        Especially when it counted. Spurs 4-1.

    • miamboy - Jun 25, 2014 at 9:23 AM

      yeah right! well…now the east is taking over! Because the west(except the spurs)are the only one’s that had a chance to beat the heat!tell me what other team in the last three years (besides spurs) to beat the Miami HEAT?and that’s with the west being so much better than any team in the east!

      • azarkhan - Jun 25, 2014 at 9:56 AM

        The Warriors, Clippers and Thunder would probably have beat the Heat in the Finals this year.

  3. cantonb0und13 - Jun 25, 2014 at 8:24 AM

    I just had egg-white omelet with turkey for breakfast. Then I ate a banana. After digesting my delicious healthy breakfast I ran for 3 miles. No big deal I do this basically everyday to start my day. I do this before 8 AM. Yeah I know I’m a beast. After I get ready for work, I get to teach y’all the fundamentals of basketball with my amazing knowledge for the game.

    • kb2408 - Jun 25, 2014 at 8:33 AM

      Why are you people giving this imposter “thumbs up”?!

      • cantonb0und13 - Jun 25, 2014 at 8:34 AM

        Oh hey, kb2408. Good morning!

      • kb2408 - Jun 25, 2014 at 8:45 AM

        Good morning…I will be cordial. However, until you get your own username all you’ll get from me is criticism, my friend.

      • cantonb0und13 - Jun 25, 2014 at 9:00 AM

        I think you’re mad that my name isn’t kb2408. Hmmm what about KB2408? Stop acting like a 12-year-old. Quit crying.

      • cantonbound13 - Jun 25, 2014 at 9:13 AM

        He’s a childish idiot, don’t even bother wasting your time. Just think about how he cowardly disappeared from this site after the Heat lost.

      • jimeejohnson - Jun 25, 2014 at 10:52 AM

        Why do you like fat chicks like CantonPeaBrain?

      • ranfan12 - Jun 25, 2014 at 3:40 PM

        why you gotta bring fat chicks into this lol

    • cantonbound13 - Jun 25, 2014 at 8:34 AM

      Your “amazing knowledge” had the Heat winning the championship, instead they got humiliated in the Finals. You’re not only a coward but a joke as well.

      • jimeejohnson - Jun 25, 2014 at 10:49 AM

        You’re a fat chick!

      • cantonbound13 - Jun 25, 2014 at 11:03 AM

        Ok coward

  4. rrhoe - Jun 25, 2014 at 8:27 AM

    Hopefully this wake up will make the Heat address what I see as the larger issue regarding their personnel decisions/roster. The Heat have relied on veteran FA’s that are taking less money to try for rings,and while there is nothing wrong with that for a few players they are what they are,veteran/older players. They need/have to draft better even though they will likely be doing so near the bottom of the first round yearly,may have to take flyers on players with some baggage and hope being around the team/players can get their minds right.

    • cantonb0und13 - Jun 25, 2014 at 8:46 AM

      P.J. Hairston would be a nice fit, but I think he gets drafted a little earlier than the 26th pick.

    • seansull83 - Jun 26, 2014 at 3:42 PM

      This is the Heats biggest issue breeding young talent. I just don’t see it. Chalmers is supposed to be the guy, Cole is supposed the next guy up. But they just are moving forward, hell Chalmers show he is worth less than he’s getting, he was awful all playoffs.

  5. bknowledge - Jun 25, 2014 at 8:34 AM

    Carmelo Anthony announces that if Lebron doesn’t go back to Cleveland, that he will sign there and take Lebron’s home town for himself! Melo”s goin to Akron!

  6. kb2408 - Jun 25, 2014 at 8:41 AM

    What he’s actually saying is, I’m coming back for one more season. If the Heat don’t improve, this whole ordeal will be revisited again next season. Over the hill Wade, LBJ, Bosh, 45 yr old Ray and 8 scrubs won’t be enough to beat the best of the West. If the Heat think their only worries are the Spurs they are mistaken. There are 2 or 3 other teams out West that would’ve cleaned their clocks too.

    • antistratfordian - Jun 25, 2014 at 3:18 PM

      It really depends on how driven Duncan, Ginobili, Parker and Pop are this year and whether or not an OKC player gets injured again.

      OKC and LAC are not a threat to Miami. Who else is there? The Rockets? The Blazers? Unlikely.

      I’ve been saying it all year – the only threat to Miami from the west is the Spurs because of their offense. No one else plays like them.

      • seansull83 - Jun 26, 2014 at 3:55 PM

        God how can you still discount the Spurs. Only if they are driven only if OKC is hurt. Here’s the drive this is Duncan’s last year. I say this because he opted in to his contract. He could’ve renegotiated, but I don’t see him playing 2 more years, so he took his money and will go out with one more shot.

        You don’t slander the Heat with hypotheticals, but every other team had special circumstances. Also there is a team in the west that can beat the Heat other than the Spurs, it the Clippers, why because Doc. He implores a similar style of basketball, not quite the spurs but very reliant on movement, and they have an interior defender that is still really young.

        Here’s another hypothetical, pacers don’t implode on themselves and Roy Hibbert plays like a man possessed. Paul George lives up to his hype and Lance just plays ball. I don’t think your heat win. It sounds dumb when I say the Heat only made it to the finals because the better team, The Pacer, imploded.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 26, 2014 at 4:25 PM

        Duncan’s last year… that’s the thing… players never know when to hang it up. He may end up wishing that he retired whilst on top.

        About Doc. The Heat are the team that sent him running away from Boston. He couldn’t beat them.

        The Pacers don’t have enough talent to beat Miami – they’ve tried 3 times and failed 3 times.

  7. cantonbound13 - Jun 25, 2014 at 8:42 AM

    LeBron stays, Melo signs for 2 years, Bosh & Wade take pay cuts. The Heat will still lose next year. Going to be great!

    • raygutierrez2000 - Jun 25, 2014 at 10:27 AM

      A team that in the last 5 years has won 3 Finals and you are still talking smack???? What idiot farm did you come from?

      • jimeejohnson - Jun 25, 2014 at 10:56 AM

        She came from the New Yawk Fat Chick PeaBrain Loser Farm!

      • bougin89 - Jun 25, 2014 at 11:11 AM

        Where did that fantom 3rd title in the last 5 years come from? Oh, you mean the the one in 2006(8 years ago…)

        This is why Heat fans are routinely called bandwagon fans. 4 years ago you became a fan and have no idea about the Heat’s history.

      • chiadam - Jun 25, 2014 at 12:13 PM

        Three titles in eight years?

        Bandwagon alert!!

      • patfic5 - Jun 25, 2014 at 12:53 PM

        3….no. More like *2.

      • cantonbound13 - Jun 25, 2014 at 1:59 PM

        Actually they’ we only won 2 in the last 5 years. You’re a perfect example of a typical bandwagon Heat fan. Learn more about the NBA before you decide to chime in. Thanks.

  8. heat256 - Jun 25, 2014 at 8:53 AM

    Even if MIA is still his preferred team, they do need to add some guys and get better. Playing basically 5 seasons in 4 is mentally and physically taxing, and they need guys who can help out the nights they may sit out. Wade looks like he should be playing about 10 lbs lighter, which may help him more as he ages.

  9. stoutfiles - Jun 25, 2014 at 9:04 AM

    Is he going to convince Wade to opt out and take A LOT less money? Because that’s the only way this works. Wade is eating up too much money to hobble on defense and throw up bricks.

    • cantonbound13 - Jun 25, 2014 at 9:15 AM

      His flopping is priceless

    • tompeppermint - Jun 25, 2014 at 11:00 AM

      Well said stoutflies. Wade seems like the pivotal piece. With his deteriorating health, is he really going to opt out and take less money knowing he may not get another big deal? If Wade balks, James could well seek other options.

    • antistratfordian - Jun 25, 2014 at 3:05 PM

      Wade shot 55 percent last year, and 50 percent in the playoffs. He’s not throwing up many bricks.

      • seansull83 - Jun 26, 2014 at 4:00 PM

        He also is spinning around like a turn style on Defense. Bad defense always loses to regular offense.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 26, 2014 at 4:27 PM

        That has more to do with the fact that the Heat don’t have a rim defender. The Spurs have plenty of bad defenders at the guard position, but they benefit from playing in front of Tim Duncan.

  10. klownboy - Jun 25, 2014 at 9:31 AM

    LeBron should keep his backside in Miami. I mean, are there REALLY better options out there for him?
    http://wp.me/p1gCK6-Um

  11. jbeagles23 - Jun 25, 2014 at 9:50 AM

    The raptors also had a winning record vs the west.

  12. Miami305 - Jun 25, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    Heat fans need to relax. Having lived in Miami for most of my life and then living in other parts of the world, I can attest that there is no place like Miami. It is one of the great international cities of the world and The Brown One wants to stay. The Heat culture and organization are the best in the NBA and the Godfather will do what he needs to do to make sure Lebron stays. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will take less money to continue making this beautiful thing called the Miami Heat work.

    Bron won’t go to the Clippers because they still have a racist owner.
    Bron won’t go to the Lakers because Kobe is still hanging around.
    Bron won’t go to the Bulls because he doesn’t need any more comparisons to MJ.
    Bron won’t go to the Rockets because he doesn’t want to live in Houston.
    Bron won’t go to the Cavaliers because those bridges have been burned.

    Lebron stays with the Heat and will continue to bring basketball glory to one of the greatest, if not THE greatest basketball cities in the land!

    • azarkhan - Jun 25, 2014 at 10:38 AM

      “The Brown One”? Oh right, as in:

      A Peruvian male who fell in love with ThunderKat over the internet. Cute and usually upbeat, he is recognized by all close to ThunderKat as her ‘better half’. He’s big on videogames, Zelda and noodles. He currently resides in Miami.

      The Brown One, a lover of fine women, loves ThunderKat the most.

      • byrdstheword82 - Jun 25, 2014 at 11:07 AM

        @azarkhan it took you all day to think of that one huh.

    • spthegr8 - Jun 25, 2014 at 11:08 AM

      “Lebron stays with the Heat and will continue to bring basketball glory to one of the greatest, if not THE greatest basketball cities in the land!” Greatest basketball cities.? LMFAO!!! Good one!

    • azarkhan - Jun 25, 2014 at 2:41 PM

      @byrdstheword82, Don’t be silly, it’s a straight copy from Urban Dictionary. I’m just waiting for a politically correct idiot Democrat to jump on him for calling LeBron James “The Brown One”.

    • seansull83 - Jun 26, 2014 at 4:07 PM

      Um LBJ doesn’t live in the same Miami you do. He is a Sports superstar, with retarded amounts of money. His Miami, is just a clone of every other super posh city in America. It’s not like he strolls down the street and gets a Cuban sandwich for a food truck. So stop the ridiculous notion that players choose things because of Miami’s culture, he want to play with Wade that’s it.

  13. byrdstheword82 - Jun 25, 2014 at 11:11 AM

    Look to all the Cavs fans, LEBRON IS NEVER RETURNING. Your wonderful owner burned that possibility the day he decided to proclaim to the world just how much he made LBJ. Lets be real, nobody even knew where Cleveland was until LBJ started playing for the Cavs he put you guys on the map. He’ll be back with Miami, we’ll get the championship next year. Can’t wait!

  14. jzone954 - Jun 25, 2014 at 11:43 AM

    That being said all this “what can the Heat do on sportscenter was answered correctly by one guy. He said they only have to be better than the Spurs. They finished 2nd, 1st, 1st, and 2nd. So I’m not sure why people are getting out of hand. The three opting out helps. We need the other two to opt out quick to show solidarity.

    • sdlakerfan - Jun 25, 2014 at 2:21 PM

      Don’t get why Miami’s so proud of their 2nd place finishes. Apparently because their back-to-back championships were bookended by two 2nd place finishes in a weak eastern conference it rates as a “historic run”. Right before Miami’s “historic run” started, the Lakers got a 2nd, 1st, 1st and lost to Dallas sooner than Miami did because they’re in the western conference. Not much difference in my book. They got the best player in the world and two other top 10 players and free agents willing to take less to play with this super team like Ray Allen and they run around bragging about winning a weak eastern conference. Can’t recall a team so proud of 2nd place. 2nd place doesn’t count especially considering the circumstances. “Historic runs” are about winning championships and that’s it.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 25, 2014 at 2:56 PM

        If the East was so weak then why does everyone keep picking the Heat to lose in the conference finals? lol. PBT had the Pacers going to the Finals this year. In 2011 everyone thought it was going to be the Bulls. In 2012 people were convinced it was going to be the Celtics.

        There was nothing “weak” about KG, Pierce, Rondo and Allen on the Celtics, btw, and the Heat had to beat them in back-to-back years to get to the Finals. In fact, Miami had to get through the #1 defense in all 4 years to advance to the Finals.

        The reality is that it’s hard to go to 4 straight championships in any league, regardless.

      • sdlakerfan - Jun 25, 2014 at 4:29 PM

        Who are ‘Everyone’ and ‘People’? To claim that the Heat were something other than favorites in the east for the last 4 yrs or that the eastern conf (excluding Miami) has been as strong as the western conf is ludicrous.

        Celtics were close the first yr and it is hard to go to 4 straight championships in any league – I’ll grant you that.

      • seansull83 - Jun 26, 2014 at 4:22 PM

        Umm anti you are wrong about the celtics by quite a bit. They were already a shell of the 2008-2010 team. Statistically they were 5th seeds in believe and almost upset the Heat but were severe underdogs in 2012. I remember it because Magic Johnson flip flopped on that series the whole way and Wade blocked Rondo’s face with out a call. Should’ve been flagrant one, but wast and we lost in seven.

        I’m not saying it isn’t hard but it is easier in the East. People make predictions on stats. Statistically Miami should’ve trounced the Spurs. That didn’t happen though.

        Also wasn’t Allen and Pierce playing through injury in 2012.

  15. mrbiz8505 - Jun 25, 2014 at 12:02 PM

    needs more help?
    how much help does he want?
    Brian Scalabrine was able to win a Championship when het got more help too…

  16. lakeshow247 - Jun 25, 2014 at 2:18 PM

    We all know LeBron isn’t leaving Miami. If he wants to win championships, he’d be stupid to leave. I hate how writers like you point out the obvious and make it sound like it’s some kind of big news.

  17. fanofthegame79 - Jun 25, 2014 at 4:12 PM

    I just read a pair of rumors that LeBron could either end up with the Warriors or the Rockets, both are interesting:

    The Rockets would sign and trade Harden for Melo and make the Big 3 of Howard, Melo and LeBron.

    Or

    The Warriors are trying to land Kevin Love in a trade, and then sign LeBron outright to create a Big 3 of Curry, Love and LeBron.

  18. ghelton03 - Jun 25, 2014 at 8:06 PM

    LBJ wants the ball in his hands. I don’t think he knows how to play any other way. I don’t think LBJ playing with Paul or Rose is a good fit. He will take the ball out of their hands and make them average PG’s. The best fit for LBJ is Houston, where they don’t have guards that need the ball in their hands, but have enough talent to win a title. However, I think it is unlikely that LBJ would live in Texas. That makes Miami the most realistic spot for LBJ. Riley has to figure out a way to bring some help to LBJ. That means Wade needs to take a huge pay cut and Bosh needs to take a pay cut as well and Riley needs to find some real talent to help LBJ.

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