Heat Media Day Basketball

Report: LeBron thinks “strongest option” to return to Miami; NBA executives expect that


Where’s the fun in talking about free agents staying where they are?

So when LeBron James informed the Miami Heat he was opting out of his contract media reports (including PBT’s) and twitter blew up with the possibilities — Chicago, Houston, Cleveland and a couple teams in Los Angeles. It’s not just fans, pretty much every front office around the NBA started drawing up plans, just in case.

However, the reality from the start has been LeBron almost certainly will stay in Miami. He had to opt out to put pressure on the Heat to make roster changes, make sure Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh know he was serious, and most importantly to sign for less to give Pat Riley room to maneuver.

People close to LeBron don’t think he’s leaving, reports Chris Manix at Sports Illustrated.

Thus, James opts out. But it hardly indicates a desire to leave South Beach. In fact, according to a source familiar with James’ thinking, returning to Miami remains the strongest option. James has tremendous respect for Pat Riley. He has developed a strong relationship with Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. He enjoys playing with Bosh and Wade, and still believes that core can win. It just needs a little help.

What about other executives around the league.

“I’d be surprised if he didn’t go back to Miami,” said an Eastern Conference executive.

Added another, “Why would he go anywhere? He has everything he wants in Miami.”

Much like LeBron opting out in the first place, him likely staying is not really a surprise. Pretty much every story on LeBron’s landing spots have said Miami is the most logical answer (including PBT’s).

That’s not as much fun as drawing up complex trades to get LeBron and Carmelo Anthony together with the Lakers or him and Kevin Love pairing up in Cleveland. We can play around on a trade machine and come up with three team deals and try to convince ourselves why they are likely.

But Miami has always been, by far, the most likely destination. LeBron thinks so. Most people around the league know it.

Carmelo Anthony says he can play at high level 4-5 more years

USA Basketball Men's National Team Training Camp

Carmelo Anthony can flat-out score the rock — that has never been the question. Even hurting last season for many of the 40 games he played, he averaged 24.2 points a game, had a true shooting percentage of 53.1 percent (right near the league average) while having the entire weight of the Knicks offense on his shoulders (32.2 usage rate, fifth highest in the NBA). When people (or players) talk about him being overrated, the discussion turns to defense or if he makes his teammates better. But there should be no doubt Anthony is an elite scorer.

He thinks he will be for a while longer — like another five years. Via Ian Begley of ESPN:

In fact, the 31-year-old Knicks star is confident that he can play at a high level for the next “four or five years.”

“Without a doubt. Without a doubt,” Anthony said after the Knicks’ final training camp practice on Saturday.

The Knicks better hope that’s true, they already made that bet with that massive five-year contract they gave him last summer.

Anthony’s age combined with him coming off knee surgery have a lot of people — myself included — expecting him to take a step back. Not a big one, but he is coming up at the point in his career where some open shots he used to get are now contested because he’s half-a-step slower, and some of those looks don’t fall as often. His jumper isn’t suddenly going to look like Rajon Rondo‘s, ‘Melo is going to get his points, but he may not be as efficient.

Fortunately, the Knicks have an improved supporting cast around him this season. That should take some offensive load off his shoulders, and maybe the Knicks offense will see better ball movement and start to resemble the triangle. If it’s just more isolation Anthony, it’s not going to be pretty.

Kings pick up option on G Ben McLemore

Ben McLemore, Rodney Hood
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento have picked up the 2016-17 option on guard Ben McLemore‘s contract.

General manager Vlade Divac announced the move Saturday.

McLemore was Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2013. He averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season.