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

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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.