LeBron James sold his summer as him going home, that he wanted to return to Cleveland. Certainly that was a big part of his decision.
However, also he had come to question the Miami Heat’s ownership’s commitment to fielding the best team. LeBron said if Miami had won the 2014 title it would have been much harder for him to leave, but he felt part of the reason they didn’t was they didn’t put the best possible product on the court.
That started with them amnestying Mike Miller the previous summer, a move that save the Heat $17 million in salary and luxury tax, but hurt their wing depth and removed one of LeBron’s best friends on the team.
Speaking to Chris Haynes of cleveland.com Miller said his exit was the first crack in the wall for LeBron in Miami.
“LeBron thought it was an unnecessary change,” Miller revealed to Northeast Ohio Media Group. “I’m not saying I would have been a difference-maker. San Antonio was unbelievable last year and there are a lot of things that go into a season, but it was difficult for LeBron.
“It was difficult for all of us. It was difficult for me. I had to uproot my family and move again. It was tough. I think he was disappointed because he understands legacies and he understands what he wants to do in life. That’s what makes him special.”
There was some logic to what Miami did, Miller hadn’t played more than 59 games in the past four seasons, at times it seemed like his body was held together by duct tape. When he played he fit great, but that’s $17 million in savings we’re talking about. So the Heat pulled the trigger.
But it frustrated LeBron because it was a move about money not winning. Then Miller played 82 games for the Grizzlies. LeBron saw Dwyane Wade’s minutes decline and the need for wing shooting remain, and his busy was playing in the land of great barbecue, not with him. LeBron expressed frustration with an owner he saw as not willing to spend to win.
From there the dominoes started falling. LeBron made his decision, and after he did he called Miller and recruited him. It worked, like it did with Kevin Love and everyone else not named Ray Allen (at least so far, he could still chose to join mid-season or whenever).
But Miller seems to have been the first big domino in that sequence.