By Ira Winderman
South Florida Sun Sentinel
10:19 AM EST, November 24, 2013
Will he or won't he? Having already made one dramatic move in free agency, when he left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat in July 2010, LeBron James again is in position to test NBA free agency in the 2014 offseason.
Will he or won't he? The difference this time around is James is now a two-time defending NBA champion, with the Heat having won titles in 2012 and 2013, advancing to the NBA Finals in each of James' three seasons in South Florida.
Will he or won't he? The answer likely will come later rather than sooner, with just about everyone having an opinion. To that end, the Sun Sentinel offers a regularly updated look at the LeBron speculation across the Web.
November 27, 2013
Varejao could see James back with Cavs
For now, LeBron James is coming back, although not to stay beyond hosting the Heat for Thanksgiving at his estate near Akron.
But at least one former Cavaliers teammate, the only former teammate remaining with the team since LeBron played in Cleveland, still could envision a reunion.
Asked in advance of Wednesday's Heat-Cavaliers game at Quicken Loans Arena about James' future free-agency plans, center Anderson Varejao said not to discount LeBron-Cavs II.
"It could happen," Varejao said Tuesday. "Bron is from Akron. Akron is not too far from here. Eventually in his career, he probably wants to play at home."
Yes, even with the bitterness in Northeast Ohio that followed James' July 2010 free-agency defection to the Heat.
"I think the way he left was wrong," Varejao said. “But regardless . . . he helped me a lot, helped my game and helped me as a person. I have nothing against him. It could happen."
November 24, 2013
'Come Home LeBron' rally planned in Cleveland
A "Come Home LeBron" rally is being planned for the Heat's Wednesday visit to Cleveland.
The Akron Beacon Journal reports that as part of a fan effort to get James to sign with the Cavaliers in free-agency, a group of fans will pass out 2,000 T-shirts outside Quicken Loans Arena before the Heat play there Wednesday. As part of the effort, those who take a picture wearing the shirt and tweet @ComeHomeLebron will be eligible to win 2014-15 Cavaliers season tickets.
Also, a "Come Home LeBron" billboard will go up near James' alma mater, St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, for four or eight weeks. Another is scheduled for Interstate 71.
When the Heat return in March, the plan is to distribute 10,000 T-shirts. Some, according to the newspaper, will be passed out by the fan group Dec. 14 at the opening of the renovated St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, which is funded by a $1 million donation from James.
The details of the effort can be found here.
November 18, 2013
MLS tie-in would strengthen Miami roots
First, it's not as if being part owner of a soccer team mandates a fulltime presence alongside.
LeBron James, after all, has a part interest in EPL team Liverpool but still lives on this side of the pond.
But if reports of James' interest in a Miami collaboration on a Major League Soccer team with David Beckham pan out, that's one more South Florida bond for LeBron.
Because they don't have and aren't getting MLS soccer in Cleveland.
And Los Angeles' MLS entries already are accounted for, which is why Beckham is looking elsewhere in the first place.
So, basically, buy a South Florida soccer ticket, keep LeBron.
The story of a potential LeBron-Beckham MLS Miami collaboration was first reported by The Daily Mail.
November 9, 2013
Wife establishes business roots in S. Florida
Is this a "tell" in LeBron's ultimate 2014 decision? Probably not, but his family's South Florida roots are at least a little bit deeper with his wife opening a juice bar in Miami.
As Savannah James has hinted at with recent Instagram posts, ESPN has now confirmed that she will be opening The Juice Spot in the Brickell neighborhood of Miami the first week of December.
Saturday, on his Instagram account, LeBron posted, "Look at u@mrs savannahrj!!! U go girl. Big ol STAR now! So proud of u, more than u may even know. #MyWifeIsPrettyCoolandSexy #BusinessWoman #StriveForGreatnessRunsInTheFamily."
"The idea of selling juice, Savannah James said, came from making healthy potions with her trainer to get in shape for the couple's wedding in September.
"James said her husband will stand behind her, but that this will very much be her own project.
" 'LeBron's connection to my company is that he supports me,' she said. 'But this going to my baby.' "
Of course, it is far easier to run a Miami-based business from Miami.
October 29, 2013
Oddsmaker says James will stay in '14
So what do the wise guys say? Well, according to offshore bookmaker Bovada.lv, the odds are 4 to 11 that LeBron will be a member of the Heat in 2014-15.
The proposition does delineate whether it will be by re-signing or merely LeBron bypassing the early-termination clause in his contract, a decision that must be made by June 30.
By contrast Bovada.lv is offering 11-to-5 odds for those willing to wager that LeBron will not be with the Heat a year from now.
Other propositions, from Bovada, related to LeBron and the Heat as the 2013-14 season gets under way:
Will LeBron James be a member of the Miami Heat in 2014/2015?
Yes -275 (4/11)
No +220 (11/5)
Will Carmelo Anthony be a member of the New York Knicks in 2014/2015?
Yes -140 (5/7)
No +110 (11/10)
Total Games Played – Greg Oden
Heat season averages
Total Points - LeBron James
Total Rebounds - LeBron James
Total Assists - LeBron James
Total Points - Dwyane Wade
Total Assists – Dwayne Wade
Total Points - Chris Bosh
Total Rebounds - Chris Bosh
Total Points – Ray Allen
Total Points – Mario Chalmers
October 27, 2013
Cleveland view is a return to Cavaliers
So what's the perspective in Ohio? Well, Sunday's Akron Beacon Journal offered the view that James very likely could be headed home next summer.
Per columnist Marla Ridenour:
"I think the odds are good James will leave Miami. I agree with informal polls in magazines and on the Internet that Cleveland is his most likely choice if he does.
"I don’t believe James wants to raise sons LeBron Jr. and Bryce in South Florida. I envision them following in his footsteps in the gym he’s spending $1 million to renovate at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School.
"James also knows that no one has been able to 'Light up the town like Las Vegas,' which he vowed to do here. The longer Cleveland’s championship drought, now assured to hit 50 years thanks to the woebegone Browns, the more revered will be the players who end it. His mansion in Bath might eventually have a Jamestown address if he brings us that long-awaited parade down Euclid Avenue."
The full piece can be found here.
October 23, 2013
Scout says Wade perfect fit alongside James
Amid the debate about the relationship between LeBron and Dwyane Wade comes perspective from an NBA scout with calls their chemistry "great."
The comment comes as part of the "Enemy Lines" section in the Heat preview in Sports Illustrated's NBA preview.
From the scout:
"The chemistry between LeBron and Wade has been great the last two years. I didn't think they had any chemistry in their first year together. The entire offense was "your turn, my turn." Now, the pecking order is clear: There's LeBron, then Wade and Bosh, then the rest. Wade is seeing the level at which LeBron is playing and, whether it's maturity or the effect of injuries, he has stepped back a bit and it's made them a better team."
The same scout from an opposing team makes it clear that James remains the key to the Heat's success:
"The biggest deal the last two years is obvious to anyone: LeBron James. His level of play has been off the charts, and it has raised everyone else's. His game has become more efficient. He's taking quality shots. He's not settling for as many long two-point jumpers, but he's also become a better three-point shooter. You also have to look at how Miami has changed its offense to incorporate more movement, making it harder for defenses to load up on LeBron."
The full analysis can be found here.
October 17, 2013
Kerr expects Heat to retool with re-signed James
Having already gone on record against the likelihood of the Heat repeating as champions, TNT analyst Steve Kerr was asked as part of a USA Today roundtable of NBA television analysts whether such a setback would cost the Heat the services of LeBron.
From that piece:
If the Heat don't stay on top, will LeBron James leave next summer in free agency?
Kerr: "I have a hard time seeing LeBron leaving Miami, but I had a hard time seeing him leave Cleveland [in the summer of 2010], so who knows? But assuming he stays in Miami and re-signs, then historically what has happened with teams like Miami -- whether it was the Lakers and Celtics in the '80s or the Bulls in the '90s and the Lakers again in the 2000s -- teams like that retool and rebuild around their superstars, and they kind of get rejuvenated because they get knocked off their perch and kind of regain their hunger. So if I had to predict, I would say there's a pretty good chance they don't make it this year and then there's a pretty good chance they turn around and win a title the following year."
The full roundtable of analysts can be found here.
October 16, 2013
71% in player poll expect Heat to re-sign James
And the survey says . . . ? LeBron isn't going anywhere.
That at least is what ESPN came away with when it polled 26 players, with 71 percent saying they believed LeBron would re-sign with the Heat when that window could open next summer, 25 percent saying he returns to the Cavaliers as a free agent in July and 4 percent see him signing with the Lakers next summer.
Said one of the players surveyed and assured of anonymity, "I love LeBron; he's a nice guy and a great player. But I also get why people dislike him. He showed no loyalty to Cleveland, and The Decision was just a terrible idea. So, uh, I don't know what to think."
Asked if they would play for half their current salary if it meant getting playing alongside LeBron, 85 percent said no and 15 percent said yes.
Interviewed for the survey, a player ESPN identified only as a "perennial All-Star" said, "Honestly, I think he's going back to the Cavs. They're kind of like Miami was for LeBron in 2010; the Cavs have the talent to be really good for the next six or seven years. It makes sense that he'd want to return and win a title."
A graphic of the survey can be found here.
October 15, 2013
'I'm into maximizing what I have'
Included in ESPN the Magazine's Oct. 28 NBA preview issue is an extensive interview with James that touches on several factors, but not directly on his potential July 2014 free agency.
There was, however, an allusion to "The Decision" in 2010, when James announced he was leaving the Cavaliers for the Heat as a free agent, as well as how championship rings shape James' decisions.
From the piece:
There also was a reference to rings in the interview, with James having won two with the Heat the past two seasons, his lone titles to this stage."
The entire interview can found here.
September 28, 2013
Are Knicks maneuvering for a pitch?
The reality, of course, is that every team would like to make a free-agency run at LeBron. Another reality is having the 2014 cap space to do so.
The Knicks are an example of want vs. ability. Unless the Knicks can find a way out of Amare Stoudemire's $23.4 million for 2014-15, it would appear New York would have no way of creating LeBron space next summer while still retaining Carmelo Anthony, another impending 2014 free agent.
Yet in a piece on the Knicks' management shift from Glen Grunwald to Steve Mills, The New York Times speculates on the potential impact the front-office change by Knicks owner James Dolan could have on a LeBron courtship:
"Dolan may have concluded that Mills, who also worked a number of years for the N.B.A. in addition to his decade with the Knicks, and who got to know a significant number of agents and top players as he vied in recent months for the union job, will be a good person to lead the team’s free-agent efforts.
"Those efforts could include finding a way to shed the final part of Amar'e Stoudemire's contract after this season to create cap maneuverability and possibly even make another run at LeBron James when he becomes eligible for free agency next summer. Mills could also lead an effort to lure another star player to the Knicks after this season, in part to persuade Carmelo Anthony to stay in New York. Anthony can opt out of his contract next summer."
September 26, 2013
"I don't want to go back to cold winters"
As with almost every element of the "LeBron Watch," it's all about reading the signs.
So in advance of LeBron unveiling his limited-edition watch for Audemars Piguet on Friday night, there was this from an interview with Women's Wear Daily, regarding his potential 2014 free-agency plans and where he eventually would look to settle down in retirement:
"I miss the slower pace back home but have grown used to my new city's little perks like fresh fish and sweet fruit. It will definitely be someplace warm. I don't want to go back to cold winters."
LeBron, an Akron native, of course, has been linked to a possible return to Cleveland next summer, as well as a potential move to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The full piece, which focuses mostly on fashion and lifestyle, can be found here.
September 21, 2013
Recruiting glitch? Cavs list Corbin as their greatest No. 23
The consensus has been that if LeBron does consider outside options in 2014 free agency, a potential return to Cleveland might be at the top of his list.
So how did the Cavaliers open their recruiting pitch?
By offering on the team's official website a list of the team's greatest players to wear each number.
All was well and good until you initially reached No. 23. Because that's where you initially could find a post with a photo of none other than Tyrone Corbin, with a caption that read:
"So many great Cavaliers have worn No. 23, but we went with current Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin. The digit made famous by MJ, was also worn by . . ."
From there, there was a list of 11 players, with LeBron listed 11th, with Gary Freeman and Rowland Garrett listed ahead of James, on a listing not in alphabetical order.
Eventually, an update, with a photo of LeBron was offered, with a caption that now reads, "Without question, LeBron's photo belongs here! The number 23 also was worn by . . ." with Corbin listed sixth, with an entry of, "we still have great love for you Tyrone!"
LeBron has since moved to No. 6 with the Heat, where we by no means will attempt to inject Blake Ahearn's name into the debate.
A screenshot of the since-altered entry at the Cavaliers' website and further details can be found here.
September 13, 2013
Video game has LeBron staying . . . and going
It has reached the point where one of the most successful video-game franchises is entering the debate. Included in NBA 2K14 is a "LeBron Path to Greatness" mode.
Essentially, it allows the player to decide whether LeBron stays or goes when he reaches his potential 2014 free agency, and then play out a future in one of those two modes.
Per the recap by Dime Magazine:
"The 'LeBron Path to Greatness' mode is divided along two parallel trajectories that follow James over the next seven years of his career. Between next season and 2019-2020, a lot can happen -- and the game developers have packed tons of interesting lineups together."
September 10, 2013
"Would love to spend rest of my career in Miami"
In an interview with ESPN.com, James says, "I have absolutely no idea. I would love to spend the rest of my career in Miami with this great team and great organization as we continue to compete for championships. That's ideal. But we don't know what may happen from now to the end of the season. That's the nature of the business. It's the nature of not knowing what tomorrow brings.
"I mean, as a kid, I never thought the Bulls would break up. Never. If you'd of told me as a kid that [Michael] Jordan and [Scottie] Pippen wouldn't play together for the rest of their lives, I'd have looked at you crazy. And Phil Jackson wouldn't be the coach? I'd have looked at you crazy. But sometimes the nature of the business doesn't allow things to happen like you would want them to. But we'll see."
In the story, Heat President Pat Riley says, "Our stance is the same we had with Wade in 2010, that we're just going to play the season and not let that hang over our heads and become a distraction just because the media wants to get an answer on it every day. I don't know LeBron's stance. He'll probably say one time, 'I'll talk about it next year.' We haven't discussed it yet, but we will. I'll tell him the main thing is to make sure the main thing remains the main thing. And the main thing is to win the championship."
August 20, 2013"When that path comes, we'll cross it"
LeBron made it clear in an interview as part of the launch of the Fox Sports 1 cable network that clarity on his potential 2014 free agency will be offered only when necessary.
"I have no idea. I haven't even begin to think about that. I think right now, my focus is on trying to win three championships in a row," he said. "But as far as next summer, when that path comes, we'll cross it."
Asked about his options, with speculation drawn to a return to the Cleveland Cavaliers or a move to the Los Angeles Lakers, James said in the video interview, "I'm a winner, that's all that matters. I want to win. I'm in a position right now where that's all I think about. I'm very comfortable in my surroundings.
"I love my teammates. I love the organization in Miami. So that's where I am right now."
August 12, 2013"I'm happy right now being in Miami"
In a sitdown interview with Robin Roberts that aired on "Good Morning America," among the first questions of the two-part interview was James' ability to opt out of his Heat contract after the coming season.
"I'm happy right now being in Miami, obviously winning two championships in a row, and hopefully everything works out," he said.
"But when that time comes upon us, I'll be able to tackle that. But happiness and life and what you do makes it easier to show up every day."
He then joked about how fleeting a career in the NBA can be in terms of years.
"I think I've got another 10, maybe 10, less than 10, my clock is winding," he said. "This is the longest shortest job career that you have."
August 11, 2013
"Haven't really thought about it"
In an exclusive interview with the Sun Sentinel at his annual charity event in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, James put aside questions of his potential 2014 free agency.
"It's too early," he said. "I will get to a point where I have to cross that but I haven't really thought about it."
He said he was prepared to deal with the speculation.
"It's the business," he said.
"I understand that people are going to talk about it, especially who I am and being in the position that I am in. For me, I owe it to myself and I owe it to my teammates and the franchise, to stay focused and understand what I'm there to do. I'm there to win a championship and not talk about free agency."
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