He has elected to opt out of his contract and become a free agent, but the widespread belief is that he has every intention to return to Miami.
LeBron's objective appears to be: freeing up cap space for the Heat and forcing the team to acquire a supporting cast that can help him add to his ring count.
That said, a bevy of other teams will wait to see just how available James truly is.
Per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, both Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem have opted out to make room for a bigger contract for James, and a free agent or two to improve the team. Wojnarowski indicated that Chris Bosh will follow suit.
Wojnarowski writes: "While Bosh, Wade and Haslem could ultimately take less money with the early termination outs in their deals, James, the NBA's four-time MVP, is seeking a full maximum contract extension – or something close to it – to stay with Miami, sources told Yahoo Sports."
More than any other player in the NBA, James deserves to be paid the maximum amount. The fact that his teammates also recognize his worth and are willing to sacrifice is what makes the Heat the heavy favorite to retain James' services.
What about the second-biggest free-agent prize?
Knicks Trying to Sweeten the Deal for Melo
The New York Knicks may very well be the favorites to retain Carmelo Anthony, but they clearly don't have the lead over the pack like the Heat do for James.
That hasn't stopped the Knicks from trying to put pieces around Melo for the upcoming season—should he stay.
Per ESPN's Marc Stein, the Knicks are interested in signing free-agent big man Pau Gasol, but they are working with limited funds.
The Knicks can only pay Gasol $4 million next season, and it seems almost certain he could get more elsewhere.
Unless Gasol is smitten with the idea of playing in New York and being reunited with head man Phil Jackson and new head coach Derek Fisher, this seems like a long shot.
Melo spoke with Vice Sports about his impending free-agent decision:
If this is the best the Knicks can offer Melo in the way of a supporting cast, he'll have to consider the 2014-15 season a wash. Next year, when the Knicks will have more financial flexibility, would be the soonest Melo could realistically chase his dream of winning a championship.
Next Summer's Prize?
When the Boston Celtics drafted Marcus Smart No. 6 in the NBA draft on Thursday, speculation about Rajon Rondo's future with the team began almost immediately.
Smart is a combo guard, but his best position will be at the point. Rondo is set to be a free agent at the end of this upcoming season, and it's nearing the time that the Celtics have to make a decision on his long-term future in the NBA.
Quoting an unnamed NBA general manager, Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald wrote:
You’re not going to get a bidding war over Rondo. He’s a great player, and teams have interest in him, but they’re not going to rearrange their world to make a run at him like they would for some people. Now, if he comes back next season and takes another step forward after the surgery, that could change things. Teams might want him more, and, you know, Danny could decide to keep him and hope he can re-sign him next summer.
That sounds logical. Rondo is a very nice player, but he's not a game-changer. Boston must be careful to keep that concept in mind. If Smart gets off to strong start, Rondo may become even more available.
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