Report: LeBron James ‘very likely’ to stay with Heat

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LeBron James will probably stay with the Heat.

He chose Miami just four years ago, a strong indicator of his fondness for the team. Since, the Heat have been extremely successful by any reasonable standard, including his. He’s also playing with two of his friends in Dwyane and Chris Bosh.

Overall, he just appears happy.

So, you probably don’t need anyone to tell you he’ll likely stay in Miami. But just in case you’re not convinced…

Sean Deveney of Sporting News:

a source close to the situation said that, while no final decisions have been made, James “is very likely” to stay in Miami.

The source indicated that James remembers all too well the way he was pilloried for leaving Cleveland four years ago, and that he has worked hard to rebuild his public perception. He feels the team can still win in Miami, and bolting while the team is still of championship caliber will undo the remaking of his image.

“Very likely” still leaves LeBron an out, and he’ll obviously speak with Wade and Bosh before deciding anything.

The biggest question is how long he’ll stay with the Heat.

He could remain in his current contract for at least another year and make $20,590,000 next season. Then, he’d hold a $22,112,500 player option for 2015-16, when we could do this all over again. Or he could terminate his contract by June 30 and re-sign for one, two, three, four or five years. There are plenty of options.

Declining his early-termination option is the simplest and quickest way for LeBron to stay, and that might be what he does.

But if he opts out, even with the intention of re-signing with the Heat, why wouldn’t he at least listen to other suitors while he’s a free agent? As long as he handles it better than The Decision, it shouldn’t – though probably would, sigh – harm his public image.

And once he hears those other pitches, maybe “very likely” becomes a little less certain.

LeBron can end the speculation by June 30, but if he opts to become a free agent, there’s no guaranteeing what would happen next.

Despite revoked passport, Enes Kanter says Thunder have arranged his travel to Mexico City, Toronto

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Thunder center Enes Kanter – who had passport revoked by Turkey – lacked documentation to travel for a December game against the Nets in Mexico City and a March game against the Raptors in Toronto.

Apparently, that issue has been resolved.

Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman:

Kanter said on Sunday that the team has worked out an arrangement to allow him to travel to games in Toronto and Mexico City even without a passport.

It always seemed highly likely Kanter would get to Toronto and Mexico City. He’s a high-profile millionaire working for a billion-dollar company.

Report: Carmelo Anthony’s camp ‘cautiously optimistic’ Knicks will trade him by Monday

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In July, Carmelo Anthony was reportedly confident he’d be traded to the Rockets.

That optimism always seemed misguided. A couple months later, with Anthony still on the Knicks, it looks downright foolish.

Yet…

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

Anthony’s camp is cautiously optimistic that a deal will be struck before Monday, and trying not to think about the potential media circus that will take place if Carmelo is still with the Knicks.

It’s more likely Anthony’s confidants are hopeful than optimistic. If they’re actually optimistic, they’re very likely to be disappointed.

If Anthony hasn’t been traded by now, what will change between now and Monday? Houston still must find a taker for Ryan Anderson, and that’s no easy task – not without relinquishing sweeteners more valuable than Anthony. I suppose Anthony could waive his no-trade clause for additional teams, but it’s late for a deal to come together.

Hopefully for Anthony, his advisors aren’t pinning everything on a longshot trade and are helping him craft answers to the numerous questions he’ll face at media day next week – likely in New York.

Rick Pitino predicts NBA draft will accept high schoolers within two years

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Once an advocate of increasing the age minimum and a willing accepter of one-and-done, NBA commissioner Adam Silver sounded more open about allowing high school players to declare for the NBA draft.

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement left the issue open, but Louisville coach Rick Pitino predicts change is coming – relatively soon.

Pitino, via ESPN:

When I was at Kentucky, I had seven high school basketball players, told me they were coming, and instead, they went to the pros out of high school. And by the way, I think that rule is going to change back to that. I think high school players are going to be able to go pro again.

I think the commissioner is probably going to do it within two years.

Does Pitino know something? With decades of experience in the NBA and college, he could have many contacts with inside information. It’s certainly imperative for devising a recruiting strategy to know how this rule will change.

It’s also possible Pitino saw Silver’s comments, like any outsider could have, and is making a relatively blind guess.

But the possibility of inside information makes his comments more intriguing.

Warriors executive: Golden State rejected richer jersey-ad offers

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The Warriors are charging $60 million over three years for their jersey ads – about double what any other NBA team is getting.

Golden State chief marketing officer Chip Bowers, via Darren Rovell of ESPN:

“We actually had multiple finalists,” Warriors chief marketing officer Chip Bowers said. “This was not the biggest deal that we were offered.”

Bowers said the team felt it was important for the deal to be with a worldwide brand.

Light years ahead.