James could decide to opt out this summer and leave Miami.
Miami Heat star LeBron James could pick any team that he wants in free agency if he decides to leave the franchise this summer, a source has told ESPN.
The 29-year-old could choose to opt out this summer, but experts suggest much will depend on how the Heat fare this season as they search for a third consecutive NBA title.
Nevertheless, the rumour mill is in full swing ahead of the trade deadline, and although it is of course entirely implausible that he will leave the franchise this month, the debate continues over whether or not the best player in the game will decide to take up a new challenge next season.
“This time is going to be different,” a source close to James said.
“If LeBron decides to look at other options it won’t just be teams with cap space. He has 30 options if he wants them….LeBron is not thinking about free agency right now, he’s totally focused on the season. In the summer he knows he can get to any team he wants to.”
While the Cleveland Cavaliers have previously been linked with potential interest as they look to bring James back after his acrimonious departure in 2010, the Los Angeles Lakers have also been credited with an interest given that they arguably have the cap space to work with.
However, city rivals the Clippers have also been mentioned, but any deal to take James to the West Coast on their half of the city would have to involve a more complicated sign-and-trade deal.
Just as it seemed improbable that James would leave Cleveland to link up with Wade and Bosh at the AA Arena, market experts aren’t ruling anything out at this stage and a move to work with Doc Rivers and Chris Paul in LA could prove enticing given his respect for the former and friendship with the latter.
James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all have the option of becoming free agents this summer, and it promises to be a pivotal period for the Heat who will either continue to plan around their “Big Three” or begin a rebuilding process without them.
The general feeling is that James will ultimately stay in Miami, but if teams are willing to make the right sacrifices, then he has the standing to now force deals to happen and will have unlimited options this summer if he decides to seek pastures new.