7:01 PM EDT, October 21, 2012
Way too early to say
LeBron James will play where he feels most comfortable, and where he sees himself having the best chance to win. And if anyone has any idea about that in October 2012, they should scout out a sports book that offers futures lines for two seasons down the road.
With the looming luxury tax and Dwyane Wade's lagging legs, even the Heat don't know where they'll stand in July 2014. And with legitimate uncertainty about whether Kobe Bryant truly will step away after 2013-14, the Lakers' future payroll remains in flux.
And that's not even addressing the issue of whether Dwight Howard will be a Laker nine months from now, let alone 21 months down the road. So it's way too early to speculate where James will land.
Happy in South Beach
LeBron James will re-sign with the Heat whether he opts out of his contract early or not. James' image has been rehabilitated since his disastrous decision to air "The Decision."
While public perception doesn't drive all of James' decisions, he's smart enough to know being viewed as a traitor once in a career is plenty. He seems happy in Miami, which is run by someone as competitive as him in Pat Riley. Don't underestimate Riley's ability to reload, which is the basis for the James-to-the-Lakers rumor. Riley will make sure James stays happy because James is a once-in-a-lifetime talent.
From afar, James appears happy having taken his talents to South Beach. There's no strong basis for him to leave.
He can save Orlando
LeBron to the Lakers? Puh-leeeze!
That's low-hanging fruit, LBJ. You leave the Heat for L.A. as a free agent in 2014 and you aren't a superstar. You're tagging along. You're a professional coattail rider.
You want a real challenge? Head on up the interstate and save Orlando.
You can do something that Shaq, Penny Hardaway, Tracy McGrady, Grant Hill and Dwight Howard couldn't do. Take the Magic to a championship.
The Magic will have plenty of cap room for you, LeBron — maybe as much as $36 million. You won't have to share the stage with Dwyane Wade in Miami or Dwight Howard in L.A. Plus, look at the biggest bonus of heading to Orlando: Your kids can live at Disney World.
No reason to leave
Los Angeles Times
Money and titles. That's the real currency superstars dream about.
The NBA's labor deal still encourages a superstar to stay with his current team by allowing that franchise to pay more to their free-agent star than any of the other 29 teams. So if money matters to LeBron James in 2014, he can haul in more in his next contract by staying in Miami.
James has won a title in Miami — that's a key reason why he exited Cleveland, no prospects of winning a championship there. Guess what: The Heat are my pick to win the title in June. In fact, LeBron might have collected three titles by the time his contract is up in July 2014. If that happens why take his talents out of South Beach?
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