Here’s my weekly video with CineSport.
Let’s get this out of the way first: If the Miami Heat beat the Spurs in the NBA Finals, there’s no chance LeBron leaves South Beach. You don’t win three Championships and leave, not with an opportunity to do something only Bill Russell has done in the last 50+ years: Win four straight NBA Titles. (To the Jordan fanboys: Yes, I know he could have done if he didn’t retire on a quixotic quest to play baseball. But the fact remains he didn’t do it four years in a row.)
What if the Heat lose to the Spurs? Then what? Here are some potential reasons for LeBron to leave this summer:
* The Heat roster has nine free agents according to this breakdown. The Heat roster has eight guys 30 or older. Pat Riley has created a family atmosphere in Miami, but if there are wholesale changes to the roster – Shane Battier is retiring; will Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis and Udonis Haslem, too? – what happens to the family?
* Yes, Noah makes a good point – there’s a chance the Heat could sell Bosh/Wade/LeBron on all taking paycuts and then somehow convince Carmelo Anthony to take one too and get a title. But how thin does that leave the rest of the roster?
* I know the Cleveland weather pales in comparison to Miami, and the Cavs owner is a buffoon, but looking at LeBron’s recent postseason career, he’s played 21, 23, 23 and if this series goes seven, 22 games. That’s another entire season on the 29-year old. Wade got to take plenty of nights off this season, played the fewest minutes per game in his career and looks fresh (so far) in the playoffs. You know where LeBron could take some nights off next season? Cleveland, with a supporting cast of either Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Andrew Wiggins/Joel Embiid, Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao or Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Jarrett Jack, and Anthony Bennett.
* LeBron could look across the court at the Spurs and see a similar situation: In 2007, the Spurs swept the Cavs. They didn’t get back to the NBA Finals – for a variety of reasons – until 2013. The core was kept intact, but two years later, in 2009, old age set in and role players like Bruce Bowen, Michael Finley and Kurt Thomas left. Replacements such as Richard Jefferson, DeJuan Blair and Antonio McDyess were fine for the regular season, but playoff success didn’t follow. It took the Spurs a few years to strike gold with role players Kawhi Leonard, Boris Diaw and Danny Green. Duncan can still excel at his position at 38. If LeBron waits six years to get back to the finals, he’d be 35.
* Two low-risk, high-reward pickups for Miami, Michael Beasley and Greg Oden, have resulted in nothing. The year prior, the Birdman acquisition looked like a stroke of genius. Will it be a hit or miss in 2014 and then in 2015?
If the Heat lose to the Spurs, the better long term play might be for the NBA’s best player to head back to Cleveland.