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…
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.