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Where Will LeBron James Play Next Year? Four Possible Destinations for LeBron James

Where Will LeBron James Play Next Year? Four Possible Destinations for LeBron James

With the 2014 NBA Draft over, hoops fans will now direct their attention to a wild NBA free agency period that got even crazier when LeBron James announced he was opting out of the final two years of his contract with the Miami Heat. It sent shockwaves around the league. The best player in the world was suddenly available and all 30 teams have a shot at grabbing his services.

James knows he is the best basketball player in the planet and he has made it clear that this time around, teams bidding for his services must pay the maximum amount for them to have a chance of signing him. James, in his illustrious 11-year NBA career, has not been paid the maximum salary by any of the teams he has played in. It is therefore understandable James wants to be paid what he feels he rightly deserves.

With those parameters in place, here are the four teams that have the best chance of signing King James.

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Four Possible Destinations of LeBron James in the 2014/2015 NBA Season

Miami Heat

LeBron James (1)

The Appeal

If the most important thing for LeBron James at this point of his career is winning championships, then the best place for him to do so is still with the Miami Heat. Even though they were manhandled by the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals this past season, there’s no denying the fact that in their four years together in Miami, James, Wade and Bosh have been in the top three of the league all four years, making the Finals (out of an admittedly weak East) all four years.

[sc:NBA240banner ]Sure, they went 2-2 in those finals appearances, but they still won two NBA championships in an era it is difficult to win one. With a solid coach in Erik Spoelstra and a front office led by team president Pat Riley, the Miami Heat organization is steeped in winning tradition and it will be hard for LeBron to find a better place to win championships than in Miami where they can just coast around until the playoffs in a weak conference.

Most importantly, the Heat can give him the maximum salary that he demands.

The Catch

No question, the humiliation suffered by the Heat in the hands of the Spurs in the recently concluded NBA Finals played a big factor in Lebron’s decision to opt out of his contract.

The Spurs exposed Dwyane Wade’s flaws as he only averaged 15.2 points per game in the Finals as the knee injuries clearly have taken its toll on his 32-year-old body. But it was on the defensive end that Wade suffered as the Spurs took advantage of the matchup time and again. Chris Bosh, the other member of the big three, wasn’t a big help either, averaging just 14 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.

With that in mind, will James return to a Heat team with two of his cohorts on the decline and a supporting cast that was virtually non-existent in the Finals? With LeBron’s asking for the maximum salary, will Bosh and Wade agree to take a significant pay cut and be paid much less compared to LeBron?

Cleveland Cavaliers

Kyrie Irving

The Appeal

There is unfinished business here. Everyone knows it. The city of Cleveland knows it. LeBron James knows it.

As everybody who follows the NBA already knows, LeBron James, after seven years of trying to win a championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers, decided that he had to leave the franchise and start anew in Miami to achieve his dream of winning an NBA title.

Fans across the world were outraged with LeBron’s decision. They labeled him a quitter for leaving Cleveland. By joining forces with fellow superstars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, he was looking for the easy way in his quest to win titles. This is not how NBA superstars should act. They must be able to do it by themselves.

James eventually was proven right in his decision. He won back-to-back titles with the Heat as they entered the Finals in all of his four years there. The Cavaliers, on the other hand, struggled, going 97-215 in their four seasons without LeBron, missing the playoffs in all of them.

The consolation for Cavaliers fans has been the Cavs’ good fortune of getting the top draft position. In the past four NBA drafts, they have been awarded the number one pick three times. They selected Kyrie Irving in the 2011 edition while they picked Anthony Bennett in 2013. Just last week, they selected swingman Andrew Wiggins from Kansas as their overall top pick.

The tools are already in place. The young guns in Irving and Wiggins are raring to go and lift the Cavaliers out of their malaise. The addition of LeBron James would make them much stronger and help turn into instant championship contenders. A maximum salary offer is in the offing for the four-time MVP.

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The Catch

Sure, LeBron James can turn any team into a playoff contender if ever he decides to play for them. That would be the case with this young Cavaliers team brimming with talent.

The question is whether, with LeBron’s win-now attitude and such a young team, can he be patient with them? This young crew will no doubt make mistakes and come playoff time, those mistakes would be magnified.

If ever he returns to the Cavaliers, he will have to start fresh again and for the second time in his career, there will be another adjustment period that he has to take into account for. Is he willing to do that again? The Cavs surely hope so.

Phoenix Suns

Goran Dragic

The Appeal

There are only seven teams that can offer LeBron James the $22.2 million maximum salary that he reportedly demands. The Suns are one of them and have enough cap space to target LeBron and another star.

There’s no question that LeBron loved playing with his Olympic teammates. That was the primary reason why he joined forces with Wade and Bosh in Miami. It makes his job much easier with the other teams not focusing so much on him on defense. It worked well the first three years in Miami but the Spurs made Miami look like Cleveland 2.0, with James carrying the load for the entire team.

The Suns are able to create another power partnership that will emulate the LeBron-Wade-Bosh axis last time around. The Suns front office is discussing the possibility of LeBron joining forces with Carmelo Anthony in Phoenix.

This maybe a long shot but they are exploring the possibility nonetheless. Without Anthony, the Suns still provide James a solid team that he can possibly guide to the Finals. With a solid backcourt in Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, LeBron, who thrives on the fast break, will find it appealing to join forces with this duo.

The Catch

Phoenix sucks.

Dallas Mavericks

Dirk Nowitzki

The Appeal

After trading for Tyson Chandler to form their own big three with Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis, the Mavs still have roughly $28 million in salary cap space to spend on.

With LeBron looking for the maximum salary of $22 million, Mark Cuban and the Mavs have the budget to accommodate such a request.

After pushing the eventual champions San Antonio Spurs to seven games in the first round of the playoffs, this Mavericks team is not that far away from being a Finals contender again. The addition of Chandler to the veteran duo of Nowitzki and Ellis will also appeal to James who will look to this trio’s playoff and veteran experience.

The Catch

If LeBron joined the Suns or Mavs, the days of playing against perennially-soft teams like the 76ers would be over, and James would face a steady diet of Western Conference superpowers.

The Suns finished the season 14 games above .500 but still ended up missing the playoffs. The Eastern Conference on the other hand featured an eighth-seeded Atlanta Hawks team that finished with a 38-44 SU record.

Also, the miles on LeBron’s legs have been adding up as well with James about to turn 30 next December. As evidenced by the recent NBA Finals, James found it difficult to handle the efficient execution of the Spurs. That was just five games in the Finals. Imagine 82 regular season games in a deep Western conference plus the playoffs.

Writer’s Prediction

Following James’ decision to opt out, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have followed suit with a view to restructuring their deals for them to be able to field a stronger unit next season. These developments will help Pat Riley in acquiring the assets necessary to help the Heat improve next season. LeBron will settle for home without a discount and lead the Heat in 2014-2015.

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Joel
Written by Joel

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