Four years after
James presumably won't announce his intended destination on
In an ironic twist, Gilbert and James could team up again after James' agent informed the Heat on Tuesday that his client would exercise the early termination option on his contract, making him an unrestricted free agent July 1.
The Cavaliers are among a handful of teams that could potentially woo James away from Miami, though ultimately this may be much ado about bluffing. James won two championships and went to the Finals in each of his first four seasons with the Heat. That's going to be hard to top.
Sure, Miami was overmatched during a five-game Finals beatdown by the
Here's a look at James' best options, followed by a predicted winner in what figures to be a whirlwind courtship:
1.Simply stay put. The Heat is the only team that can offer a maximum five-year, $127.7-million contract, but this was never about the money. James might be smartest if he convinces
Among the team's biggest needs are a new point guard (
Oh, and by the way: It's time to make Bosh the No. 2 scoring option and reduce Wade's role, perhaps to sixth man.
2. Make it sweet home, Chicago.
The downside is that the
3. Hello (again), Cleveland! James' wife, Savannah, nearly caused an
Still, the idea of joining forces with
4. Become the world's biggest booster Rocket. Houston might present James with the best core of players in
But James might be put off by Harden's defense, Howard's smiley-face personality and Parsons' having predicted that James would leave Miami even before the Heat lost to the Spurs. The
5. Take a trip to La-La Land. In 2010, the
The Lakers' roster is so depleted that James' arrival would form a Big Three also including
Joining the Lakers might have been a more realistic possibility for James had Bryant not sucked up $48.5 million in salary over the next two years, creating precisely the kind of top-heavy roster problems James is seeking to escape.
The Clippers have $73 million committed in salary for next season, according to salary cap expert Larry Coon, meaning they would either have to gut their roster in trades to acquire James or complete a sign-and-trade deal involving
And the winner is … Miami. This decision will qualify as a rerun, even if it doesn't garner any Nielsen ratings.