LeBron James has dodged the free agency questions this season, refusing to broach the topic when asked. He’s more artful about it than the season before he left Cleveland, but he has avoided the topic.
Until an interview on NBA TV that ran Monday night.
In an interview with Steve Smith (the same one that sparked the “Mount Rushmore” discussion) LeBron was asked if he could see himself leaving Miami (transcription by the AP):
“At this point, I can’t,” James said. “At this point, I can’t. We don’t know what can happen from now to July, so what I’ve been able to do this whole season to this point is just worry about what’s at hand and that’s winning another championship. And hopefully at the end of this year I can put myself in a position where I can hold that Larry O’Brien Trophy up once again and then I will assess what I have to do with my future after that.”
While a number of teams have left cap space around just in case, nobody around the league expects LeBron to leave Miami after this season.
LeBron can opt out of his deal after this season, after next season or become a free agent in 2016 and the question is what path does he take? If he opts out now he can secure a five-year deal with Miami, adding a level of security if this is where he wants to be. If you’re argument is that Dwyane Wade is getting old and titles harder to come by so LeBron will want to leave, I would remind you that LeBron and Wade are very close. Plus do you think Pat Riley might be able to convince guys to come live and play in Miami (with warm weather, no state tax and a few other perks) next to LeBron to chase rings? With LeBron Miami can reload.
But if LeBron doesn’t opt out it will make you wonder if he is looking to leave down the line.
Also, remember Wade and Chris Bosh can opt out this season to look for new deals. What direction they take will impact Miami’s future and how that roster is built.