We’ve established that LeBron James isn’t likely to leave the Miami Heat, but it’s not a slam dunk by any means. He could find greener pastures with one of the longest shots on the 2014-15 NBA futures market.
Jason’s final record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14:
112-99-3 ATS (–1.51 units vig)
26-23-1 Totals (–0.21 units vig)
3-1 Series (+2.0 units)
Profit: 4.09 units
Does anybody really know whether LeBron James will stay with the Miami Heat? Does James even know himself? It’s easy enough to say James is probably coming back to South Beach, along with the rest of his Big Three cohorts – they’re the early 7-2 NBA betting favorites to win next year’s title for a reason. But James might decide he’s better off taking his talents elsewhere. Maybe he’d like more money up front as he enters his age 30 season. Maybe he’d like to surround himself with younger teammates. And maybe he’d like to be hailed one more time as a franchise savior.
James could get all three of those things in Charlotte. The Bobcats are now the Hornets, and Michael Jordan reportedly wants to add a “superstar” now that his team has a reasonably decent collection of young players. Let’s engage in some traditional NBA offseason speculation – just in case the Hornets are worth a flyer at 75-1 to win the 2015 championship.
The Jordan Rules
This isn’t just idle speculation, either. As The Charlotte Observer reported last week, the Hornets will have at least $13 million of cap space to play with next year; James would obviously cost more than that, but according to GM Rich Cho, Charlotte is actually more likely to be looking at $17-19 million in cap space. And Jordan, despite his occasional swipes at James in the past, would presumably be happy to pay some luxury tax to bring King James into the fold. Jordan was recently listed as a billionaire by Forbes.
So do the Hornets have enough existing talent to interest James? They’ve got point guard Kemba Walker (16.8 PER), who will be entering the fourth year of his rookie deal. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (12.0 PER) will be in his third season and has tremendous defensive chops that don’t show up on the score sheet. And Al Jefferson (22.7 PER) paved the way for other free agents to consider Charlotte as a viable destination.
On the downside, the Hornets almost certainly need more than that to lure James away from Miami. There aren’t a lot of quality shooters on this team, and one of their best, Josh McRoberts (13.8 PER, 36.1 percent from downtown), is a free agent looking for a raise after his comeback season. Cody Zeller (13.1 PER), who attempted just one 3-pointer as a rookie – he missed – could end up taking his starting spot.
Anthony – or Lowry?
Compare the situation in Charlotte with what James would be leaving behind in Miami. Yes, Dwyane Wade (22.0 PER) isn’t likely to ever play again at an MVP level, but he’s still an All-Star when used in measured amounts. Chris Bosh (19.0 PER) remains in his prime and is arguably getting better now that he has added 3-point range. And when it comes to free-agent destinations, it’s difficult to beat the Heat.
No doubt you’ve heard the Carmelo Anthony (24.4 PER) rumors. This is a scenario that the Heat have reportedly been mulling over for months now. But even if that proves to be too complex to negotiate under the CBA, there are other options out there. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst is reporting that Kyle Lowry (20.1 PER) could be interested in leaving the Toronto Raptors – he’d be an instant upgrade over Mario Chalmers (14.0 PER), who’s also a free agent this summer. Now that would be a Big Four worth talking about. Even Jordan’s Chicago Bulls never had that much beef on the court at the same time.