After four years, four trips to the Finals, two victory parades, two anguishing Finals losses and months of speculation, Heat forward LeBron James has opted out of his deal with the Miami Heat and will test the market as an unrestricted free agent. Much has changed since the last time James was a free agent. For one, James finally has three rings, a pair from Heat title teams and another from his nuptials last summer. More importantly, James appears to be more open to returning to a Cleveland reunion after spurning them and taking his talents to South Beach four offseason cycles ago.
James' announcement is auspiciously timed considering that James had until June 30th to decide and that on Monday his wife Savannah brewed up a media maelstrom after posting a photo on Instagram with Akron in ostentatious print, over a map of the United States accompanied by a caption which reads "Home sweet home!! The countdown is real!! #330"
It's rare that a modern superstar of James' ilk is a free agent–much less twice in four years during his prime. This time, the expectation is that this time around, his free agecny won't approach the circus surrounding 2010's The Decision. James will have an eventful slate in front of him. Cleveland isn't the only franchise that envisions James in their uniform next season. Every franchise under the NBA umbrella wants a piece of James and even some that aren't.
I know @kingjames has a lot of options, but gonna throw my rec team into the mix. Gotta bring your own drinks but good group of guys!
— Matthew Berry (@MatthewBerryTMR) June 24, 2014
James was set to earn $20.5 million next season, but money's of no concern for the fou-time league MVP. He's got it in bulk. What James seeks is a contender to enhance his legacy. Now, it's just a matter of determining where that team resides.