It's starting up nearly two years before any kind of move would be possible, but talk of the Cleveland Cavaliers saving cap space for the 2014 offseason in an attempt to bring LeBron James back must be addressed, and from many, many angles.
So let's get down to it, and give this whole idea a big once-over so we can (hopefully) ignore it (but not bloody likely) until at least the start of next season.
If this begins to read like a will, that's because it is. We've just witnessed the death of a nearly five-month period without blind speculation on player movement, and now that this cat is out of the bag, it's going to be hard to put back in.
To anybody who cares,
We're back to this whole ordeal again, and there should be nothing shocking about it. LeBron James can opt out of his contract at the end of next season. We all knew that two years ago and were starting to brace ourselves for the storm of speculation, whenever it were to arise again.
That day has come, and from here on out it's going to be an endless barrage of speculation, reading into potential signs that aren't really signs and forming opinions about what is or isn't going to happen.
In the end, it might be funniest if LeBron doesn't end up opting out of his contract, just to make us all look like fools.
For now, there's no way of really knowing what the landscape of the NBA looks like at the end of next season. Perhaps the Heat have won three championships, perhaps they're still stuck on one.
The only thing I can do right now is give out some advice to everyone involved in the situation as best I can, from my strange vantage point.
I would consider myself to be a well-meaning, logical and mostly unbiased Cavaliers fan. I may get on a tangent here and there about how much I loved Zydrunas Ilgauskas or hated Ricky Davis based solely on my position as a Cavs fan. But as far as current basketball goes, I like to believe that I'm good about putting those thoughts as far away from the landscape as possible.
First, to Cleveland Cavaliers fans:
Please don't get your hearts too set on this happening. I've seen what happens when things don't end up going the way Cleveland fans hoped, and it's upsetting.
Just recently I've witnessed some of the folks in Cleveland start an instant grudge against Brian Kelly because he chose to go coach the Philadelphia Eagles over the Browns, after having hopes that he would bring some interesting football to the city.
Putting it bluntly, it was weird.
This is another one of those situations. There are too many variables at play to put any faith in this actually happening. It's best to take all the news in stride and keep a calm mind.
But let's say there's a chance—and I'm talking cold, hard evidence that he's thinking about returning to Cleveland.
To those of you who still harbor a seemingly never-ending grudge against LeBron, it's time to smooth those corners and calm down a bit.
It was nearly three years ago now that LeBron left. The team is rebounding, they've got a fine young player, and there should have been plenty of time for that feeling to fade, which I think is true for most Cavs fans.
Stubbornly keeping up this charade in the face of the chance to win a championship—the first major championship the city would have seen since 1964—is counterproductive. I'm ready to see this city win a title, no matter the price.
To LeBron James:
Make whatever decision you want. Seriously. Just be a bit more low-key about it this time.
Most people in the basketball world have forgiven you as much as they possibly can, or have come around to support you at this point, and I want to keep it that way.
The NBA is so much better when you can dislike the greatest player on the floor because of what he's doing to your team, not because of what he's done off the court.
If you decide to come back to Cleveland, expect the yahoos. They're inevitable.
There's no doubt that fans in Cleveland are some of the most intense you'll ever find, so there's going to be an outpouring of support if you do come back, but there are always going to be the grudge-holders out there.
Winning a championship for Cleveland could be your crowning achievement, but don't come back because you feel like you have to; come back because you want to.
Regardless of what your next decision is, all we can ask for is a less of a drawn-out, public display. But that shouldn't be too hard this time around, eh?
To all NBA fans:
I'm sorry. So vehemently sorry.
This is going to be a long year-and-a-half. If you thought it was bad the first time around, just wait until these talks really start to heat up.
Hang in there, ignore it all as much as possible and just enjoy basketball.
To Miami Heat fans:
I was going to make a joke here, but I figured I'd keep it all in good taste. We can get to the playful ribbing down the road.
For now, I just want to let you guys in on all the mistakes I made leading up to LeBron's first decision.
Overall, the best piece of advice I can give is to just avoid arguments with people about where he's going to end up playing past next season.
Don't try to argue with that completely acceptable logic: If and when it does backfire, it's just going to leave you scratching your heads.
The best thing to do to keep your sanity is accept the banter in stride, and if he leaves, feel free to react however you like. Burn jerseys, set a nearby body of water on fire, go out salsa dancing, ignore it altogether, do whatever.
Whatever your reaction, you'll get no judgment from me.
I can't say I hope he stays in Miami, because I do want him to come back to Cleveland. However, I'd rather have him stay in Miami than go to some other city.
To Dan Gilbert,
Please, no comic sans.