The departure of LeBron James in Cleveland is inevitable after the Golden State Warriors swept the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. With James expected to opt out of the final year of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent, Stephen A. Smith of ESPN mentioned seven potential landing spots for the All-Star forward in the upcoming offseason, including the Miami Heat.
LeBron James spent four seasons with the Heat where he made four consecutive NBA Finals appearances and won two NBA titles playing alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Despite cutting communication with James since he left in 2014, Heat President Pat Riley will surely welcome James back in South Beach. His return will undeniably make them a legitimate playoff contender in the Eastern Conference next season.
However, bringing LeBron back to Miami won’t be simple for the Heat. According to Barry Jackson of Miami Herald, the Heat will need to convince the Cavaliers to engage in a sign-and-trade deal or ask James to opt into the final year of his contract and demand a trade from Cleveland.
“The Heat, in such a scenario, would need to send comparable salary to Cleveland, with Hassan Whiteside and Josh Richardson and draft picks one permutation that would work within parameters of the salary cap – though that deal would obviously not approach equal value for the Cavaliers.”
The reunion of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in Miami is undoubtedly one of the things Heat fans want to see next season. Unlike Coach Tyronn Lue, Heat Head Coach Erik Spoelstra knows how to maximize the effectiveness of both superstars when playing together on the court. However, despite the presence of Wade in South Beach, it remains questionable if James really sees them as an ideal landing spot in the upcoming offseason.
The Heat, as currently constructed, are in no position to compete for an NBA championship. They are obviously not a better team than the Cavaliers. Even with the addition of James, the Heat will have a hard time fully dominating the Eastern Conference next season, especially with the rising threats of the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers.
Also, it’s highly unlikely that the Cavaliers will consider trading LeBron James for a package centered on Hassan Whiteside. Since last season, Whiteside’s value has tremendously gone down, and the Cavaliers would be foolish to absorb the remaining two years and $52.4 million left on his contract unless the Heat attach Goran Dragic in the deal.