I'm Calling It: 2014 LeBron Goes Back to Cleveland
If you look at the Miami Heat, they're going to need to rebuild their entire supporting cast in 2 years. Shane Battier, Ray Allen, Udonis Haslem, Mario Chalmers and Mike Miller will all either be at the ends of their career and/or contracts.
Then there's the big question of Dwyane Wade's health. He's clearly slowing down and is going to have to be limited going forward. Who knows how long that knee is going to hold up. While, Chris Bosh is nice, you don't sign somewhere just to play with him.
If you're LeBron James, do you resign for this situation? I don't see how you do. Regardless of how you felt about The Decision, no one can dispute it was made out LeBron's desire for rings. Miami won't be in a position to offer LeBron the most rosy situation like they did in 2010.
I've always felt that LeBron wouldn't finish his career in Miami, but it feels like going beyond 2014 now seems even like a stretch.
This leaves me with the real possible destinations for LeBron: Los Angeles or Cleveland.
The Lakers seem fascinating because it would be an amazing move for LeBron. Assuming Dwight signs an extension and the Lakers let Kobe, Pau and Nash simply roll off their payroll, The Lakers would have cap room to go after LeBron.
First you have to imagine a pairing with Dwight Howard and how that might end up being the best player LeBron could go play with. Wade fit that bill in 2010. Besides that though, the actuality of moving from Cleveland to Miami to Los Angles would make LeBron as infamous and talked about as Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain.
That would be tempting, but I think Cleveland is the clear choice for LeBron. In two years, Kyrie Irving very well might be a top 10-15 player. Tristian Thompson, Dion Waiters and two more years of high(ish) draft picks will have Cleveland in a good cap situation and with a ready made team.
That all gives LeBron plenty of food for thought, but what will ultimately do it is the story. We all look back now at Magic's 1984 Finals and MJ losing to the Pistons repeatedly as apart of their career narratives. "They had to lose and feel pain, before they could become great." You can already see this with LeBron now.
Imagine LeBron wins, say, just one more ring in Miami. Now, in 2014, he's a two time champion, legacy as one of the greats intact. What makes the biggest impact? Winning another ring for the Lakers or going back to Cleveland as a champion and trying to win it all where it all began? Imagine if he succeeds.
Tell me you can't already envision the interviews of "I left a boy and came back a man." The Oprah segment writes itself.
No matter what you think of LeBron, he's not an unmotivated player. He wants to win and wants to have a legacy. I don't see him chasing rings with the veracity that MJ and Kobe have. Leaving Cleveland, winning rings in Miami, going back to Cleveland and winning another ring... You add that to the career numbers that will be eye-popping (I'm thinking 30,000 points, 8,000 rebounds and 8,000 assists) and 4 or 5 MVPs awards, that's a historic career.
Could LeBron really resist that?