- Bradford Doolittle
That tremor you felt in NBA land Tuesday morning was the aftershock from ESPN's report that LeBron James was opting out of his contract with the Miami Heat. The excitement is understandable. It's not every day that one of the 10 best players in league history suddenly becomes available but the news was not surprising in the least.
In fact, it is difficult to think of a single reason James wouldn't opt out. We've already been speculating about possible landing spots for James, and that's going to continue until he picks his new team, or decides to stay with his old one.
What no one seems to be asking is this: What happens in Miami if James leaves?
We don't yet know if James' star teammates, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, will also opt out. While James can dictate the terms of his next contract to any team in the league, it might not be so simple for Bosh, and it most definitely is not so simple for Wade. So there is a lot on the line for Pat Riley and the Heat over the next couple of weeks. They could remain the odds-on favorite to win a fifth straight Eastern Conference title, or they could be taking a sudden interest in 2015 draft prospects like Jahlil Okafor and Cliff Alexander. It feels unlikely that James will leave Miami, but what if he does? Here are three potential outcomes, one each for Bosh, Wade and Riley.
What happens to the Heat, as well as Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, if LeBron leaves Miami?