LeBron puts onus on Riley to ‘reinvent’ Heat roster around him


VIDEO: LeBron wouldn’t tip his hand about opting out during his exit interview

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — At least we were spared the made-for-TV announcement special this time.

LeBron James opting out of the final two years of the deal he signed in 2010 with the Miami Heat to explore his free agent options is the decision many of us expected. From all indications, it’s the only reasonable decision he could have made, given the circumstances.

Never mind the craziness his choice will usher in over the course of the next few weeks.

We’re still waiting on the decisions of the other two members of the Heat’s Big 3, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who are expected to follow the lead of James and opt out of their deals before the June 30 deadline and become free agents July 1.

That would place them in a superstar class that also includes Carmelo Anthony, who informed the New York Knicks that he was opting out of the final year of his deal Monday. The fun (and madness) begins with the speculation about what these guys will do in the next phase of their respective careers.

That Heat Big 4 that Pat Riley called a “pipe dream” last week suddenly looks like a possibility, a far-fetched one maybe but still a possibility. By opting out of their deals LeBron, ‘Melo, Wade and Bosh have created an opportunity for Riley to pull off the unthinkable for the second time since 2010, when the Big 3 was put together.

Of course, that’s just one scenario of many that could play out before free agents can sign deals July 10.

But it all starts with LeBron’s latest decision to consider his options. Riley spoke directly at LeBron last week when he was talking about the need for the Heat to “stay the course” and “not run for the first open door” to escape. Well, LeBron fired the ball back at Riley with his decision coming well before that June 30 deadline. Now Riley has to make good on his vow to do whatever it takes to keep his core together and reinvent the rest of the roster around them (and more specifically LeBron).


VIDEO: Pat Riley talks LeBron James

Riley took the news well Tuesday, via this statement from the Heat:

“I was informed this morning of his intentions. We fully expected LeBron to opt-out and exercise his free agent rights, so this does not come as a surprise. As I said at the press conference last week, players have a right to free agency and when they have these opportunities, the right to explore their options. The last four seasons have been historic and LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Erik Spoelstra have led the Miami HEAT to one of the most unprecedented runs in the history of the NBA. We look forward to sitting down with LeBron and his representatives and talking about our future together. At the moment, we are preparing for the opportunities in the Draft and Free Agency as we continue with our goal of winning NBA Championships.”

There is hope in New York and Cleveland and Los Angeles — basically everywhere that LeBron has ever expressed passing interest in — that this could be their summer of LeBron.

And yet, the Heat, if Wade and Bosh follow suit, still offer the best chance for championship contention for LeBron in his physical prime (an era that should last for at least five to six more seasons, provided his workload is managed properly going forward and there are no significant injuries).

If the four trips to The Finals in four seasons doesn’t do the trick, perhaps a peek at the rest of the woeful Eastern Conference will serve as Riley’s greatest tool in retaining the best player in the game (no offense to reigning Kia MVP Kevin Durant).

The fact is, LeBron is the key to the championship aspirations of whatever team he decides to play for. For all of their talk about a championship structure, the Heat were a middle of the road team in the Eastern Conference before he showed up. There’s no way around that.

Opting out gives him the chance to see what the Heat can do to remake the roster in a way that finally takes some of that pressure off of his shoulders, giving way to a new dynamic where he’s still in control of things for the Heat but without the burden of being the workhorse he has been the past four seasons.


VIDEO: Pat Riley waxes on the Big 3 staying together in Miami

Opting out before Thursday’s Draft also gives potential suitors, the Heat included, a chance to get their business in order for an all-out pursuit of James and the rest of what will be a stellar free agent class.

The Cavaliers have the No. 1 pick in the 2014 Draft and have to be considering all options, especially those that could lead to LeBron returning to his Northeast Ohio roots, which seemed like just as big a “pipe dream” before The Finals.

But much like the Bulls, Clippers, Lakers, Hawks, Suns and basically any other team that can make a compelling case to LeBron about their readiness to contend for championships for years to come with him at their leader, the Cavaliers lack the one thing the Heat have in surplus. And that’s fresh memories for LeBron to consider.

Even in defeat, against the Spurs this season, the Heat know that they weren’t far off the championship pace. The Big 3 could have decided to opt in, allowing for much less flexibility in retooling the roster, and still mashed their way through the Eastern Conference next season and found themselves back in The Finals for a mind-boggling fifth straight season.

LeBron and his crew, including his agent Rich Paul, are much too shrewd for that, though. They don’t need championship rings dropped on the table, as Riley suggested last week. LeBron has his own now.

If he wants more, he has to make a choice. Does he travel the theoretical path to No. 3, 4 and perhaps 5? Or does he travel the already laid path he helped create in Miami?

It’s crazy season for all of us, but especially you Pat Riley … just like 2010, all over again!

65 Comments

  1. Jordyn says:

    like, really lebron, you did so good.idk if its the attention that u want, but i dont think the big three r gonna follow u this time. they r lovin the heat, all the poparazzi. cant u just stay? i was ur #1 fan. im gettin lebron 11s and i have a heat hat , jersey, shorts, and lj socks. Just stay, the big three will b miserable if u leave n they dont follow. like , where r u gonna go ? back to cleveland? get w the bulls again? just stay w the heat. just think about c bosh n d wade n all them other heat players. i watch all of ur games. n btw, those finals? i can undrstand the cramps n stuff, but those other games? u gotta pussshhhhh urself to b the mvp n the allstar inside of u. You, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard are the only all stars and mvps in the game… and if anyone else agrees w me, i think kobe is a really good player. Just dont make the big three leave. email me about ur feelings on lebron @ hungryhippo187@gmail.com plz.STAY LEBRON, STAY. U DA BOMB

  2. imissthethunder says:

    Scottie Pippen is a bum.

  3. Big Al says:

    With an awfully weak Eastern Conference, forming another mega team pretty much guarantees a Finals appearance. I’m not sure if Carmelo is willing to go to South Beach, but LeBron certainly shouldn’t take his talents to Big Apple. Wade can end his career in Miami, but Bosh needs to leave, even if he agrees to a smaller pay. He’s just not the force the Heat need. He’d be so average if he were in the Western Conference. Chalmers is certainly bye-bye as well. They should find a proper big man and a point guard that can shoot consistently and actually set up plays.

  4. Lebron descision 2: going to the sixers for 18 mil
    PG: MCW
    SG: dante exum
    SF: Lebron
    PF: THad young
    C: nerlenes
    sounds like a championchip team to me and with other money get ray allen to come for james anderson!

  5. asdf says:

    For those who doesnt really understand whats happening here.

    Lebron opting out doesnt mean that he wants to leave miami, or even concidering it for that matter, The only way for Riley to be able to make this team better is that bosh, james and wade opts out and signs new deals.

    They all were oved 40+ million next 2 years wich would mean that there wouldnt be any capspace left to sign new players.

  6. derek says:

    Heat need fresh legs and better bench…in order for heat to win finals again there going to need a great point gaurd, shooting guard and center that play great both end of courts. If i were pat riley id get rid of chalmers,wade,haslem,cole,battie, rashard lewis,allen for a whole better roster.

  7. Mike says:

    Cleveland spent years building quality rosters around LeBron and he could never pull it off.

  8. Chris says:

    Can we please get off Lebron? He isn’t top 5 player of all time, he is a media made “product”. All this attention for what exactly? He is 6’8′ 260, so I’ll put my head down and run through people, that isnt the greatest of all time its a joke. Everyone knows the NBA ratings have been down ever since MJ retired and still aren’t what they were. So let’s stop trying to find someone that is better than MJ because there will never be another. Let’s call traveling violations like they should be called like back in the 80′s and 90′s, and lets see how many points any player averages i bet none over 20. Who cares about Lebron? How about talking about one of the greatest power forwards to ever play the game coming back to try and do it all over again Mr. Tim Duncan!!!!!! Lebron isn’t even in his close to being Duncan. People who like who the media wants you to like time to think for yourself and actually get to know the game of basketball

    • TimmyD says:

      Amen Brotha

    • james says:

      besides duncan being the best PF of all time, you’re completely wrong. look at the stats between jordan and lebron they are about dead even. im not talking awards and rings because the league was totally different when jordan played. there was not the depth throughout the entire league that there is today, if lebron played in jordan’s era he would have been even more dominant. Numbers never lie and the stats show you the true comparison of the 2 greatest players to ever play the game. jordan was the better scorer no doubt, but lebron is the more complete player. you couldn’t play jordan spots 1-5 on both sides of the ball like you can with lebron. there has never been a player like lebron and there will never be a player like jordan. Keep hating on lebron while he keeps winning championships and being the best player in the game TODAY.

  9. JC says:

    Miami Heat will be champion again , with or without lebron , If KJ leave miami , no more rings for Lebron , his destination is be here in miami , about Wade and bosh , they are history , we need fresh legs , Be a champion need depend of the Team , coach, and a complete good leaders and more than one player , Lebron is the best but he need a lot of things to win a champion again , miami is the right place for him , you will see if am alright , if lebron leave , then he has to forget about another ring

  10. Adam says:

    Sekou Smith is out to defend his love Lebron again. What happened Sekou, Wade and Bosh not enough anymore? What happened to not one, not two, not three…? Is your Lebron going to come out of TV again and say I will take my talents to where again? Your Lebron is just so used to taking short cuts. How many more superstars does he need now? Sekou, you and your love Lebron are both a joke to the world of basketball.

  11. lbjday says:

    All lebrons doing is giving riley a chance to prove his statement.will he ‘ retool’ the Heat? We know riley has never broken a promise to lebron but can he do the impossiable? Can Riley make a big 4? Can he bring in fresh legs? All heat fans stand up! We have faith in pat Riley!

  12. carl martigani says:

    If Lebron really leaves the Heat, and maybe Bosh or Wade obt out too, then the Heat will go back to just being a team from South Beach…nothing more….how many fans will move back to where they came from…

  13. Don says:

    I dont care who you are or where you work, if another job offers more money you will go.I think its more about the money

  14. Markus71 says:

    Obviously if CB & DWade don’t opt out & renegotiate, then Lebron James walks! Meaning no more Titles for Miami for a while! It’s in there best interests to go with another number on a new contract & stay at Miami (they do want more Titles don’t they?), which of course is what will happen. In turn Lebron will stay! So.. what will their new contracts be? Lebrons offer… a 10% increase, DWade & CB.. a 25% decrease at leas!! Roughly then, that only opens up about 10 Million a year, is that enough?? they may look to sign a S/G who can shoot 3s along with say a Jordan Hill! Thats hoping Greg Oden & Michael Beasley can play on & ‘really’ contribute. -Is that enough?

  15. cp10 says:

    “No significant injuries” – good point

  16. Skipboot says:

    If it was really all about rings, he could go to the spurs, and learn team basketball, this isn’t just about rings, to lebron it’s about winning the rings singlehandedly.

  17. I Like Ice cream says:

    Maple Jordan
    Uncle Drew
    king james
    Melo cream
    Wild Thing
    Lets Go!

  18. SuperSonic says:

    I am not a LeBron fan but admire him as a very good player. He is the best individual player in the league right now – no question. I expect that LBJ will stay in Miami if Wade and Bosh opt out and take less money to allow Pat Riley to sign some good players. Otherwise, it is anyone’s guess what he’ll do. One thing is for sure – the Heat do not need Melo. A ball hog who doesn’t play much D doesn’t fit into a championship team.

  19. NBAIQ says:

    Wade and Bosh are doomed if they opt out. There’s no way they will get offered more than $10 million per for the next few years. If I’m Wade I got 3 titles and I’m straight. Best time to collect what you can, because retirement is near.

  20. Lbj says:

    I heard he was planning on going to utah…..

  21. Mattlee says:

    I swear if Cleveland keeps the first pick, draft a center, bring Lebron back, Cleveland will be awesome, with an average coach. Hope Kyrie and Lebron groups together to win a championship. By then, there will not be any bandwagon fans, and everybody will not be hating Lebron anymore. After all, he is a very good basketball player to watch, especially in Cleveland, where his arsenal is fully used and all his tricks are truly performed, not in Miami.

  22. Eddie Rich says:

    just heard he will sign with the Thunder

  23. KMIll says:

    This isn’t news. What will be news will be Dwayne Wade’s decision. If he opts out, Heat fans will start screaming for Riley to just let him go and try to land Melo. And if Bosh opts out more fans will scream for Riley to forget about him as well and try to get Love. Neither Wade nor Bosh will get close to their next years salary if they do opt out. Both should just stay with their next years contracts and stay in their existing contracts with the Heat. Then the Heat will just remain the same team so many of us love to hate!

  24. Nate Graham says:

    Ken, I totally agree, and you know what good players can team up and repeat History, but great if not the greatest can change it!

  25. Nate Graham says:

    If only half of you guys knew how much Lebron really means to the area! Yeah it would be great for any of you to place Lebron on your respected team and become a title contender! But Cleveland/Akron want him back to put our area on his jersey every night and show the world the talent that can from out of the slums of Akron! Even if he cam back and never won a title it would mean more to us then any of you that just wants to put more W’s on your schedule and possibly a championship!Lebron Is the awnser! We can’t attract big players in C town but one was born here for goodness sake and can change that! Lebron was meant to do this, this is his true calling! Lebron would be a Hero, comic book characters are fake, but this is real people!

  26. Nate Graham says:

    Did anyone on here have a problem with when he played for Cleveland? That was some of the most exciting basketball I have ever seen! Going back home to Cleveland and winning their first title would go down as the greatest story in american sports history! And please dont argue that, I grew up ten blocks down from him in the ghetto and know him better then any of you wannabe lebron fans!

  27. Celtics fan says:

    His legacy will be tainted forever if he moves to another team. No matter how terrible an organization the Cavs are, he should comeback there because the NBA wants to and that’s the only place he could truly call home.

  28. jorge says:

    So let me get these straight, Lebron is being criticized for going to another team with big names. MJ had big names around him! Magic had big names around him! Bird had big names around him! Even these years champs had big names around them!

    If he wants to go to another team, fine. Then stop telling him to stay in the east because its much easier, go west & prove your toughness against the rough west! Go with any team & play the playoffs through the west! That way all who criticize will be quieted because he can compete in the way tougher conference! MJs bulls played against the lakers &celtics. Then let lebrons future team play against the west OKC, LAC, SA, HOU, GSW, POR & lets see what he gots!

    • MrNBA says:

      I don’t think you still got it straight so here it goes: MJ didn’t team up with anybody. Pippen was a nobody when he was drafted by the Bulls, not signed as a free agent. After Pippen it’s just a group of role players and even a clown (Rodman). Magic was drafted by the Lakers. Kareem was already there and even he was acquired via a trade meaning the Lakers gave up something to get him. Again not signed as a free agent. The same with Bird.
      Now if you think Ginobili (drafted by the Spurs), Parker (drafted by the Spurs), Splitter, Diaw, Leonard, Green, Mills, Bonner, Bellineli, etc are names just as big as James, Wade and Bosh well…there’s no hope for you.

      • Robert says:

        I am tired of people saying scottie was a nobody how many did Jordan win without him and also Noone talked about kobe getting Malone Payton and having shaq and not winning Dennis had rings before Jordan he had 2 with pistons best rebounder in history and his defense was great to he was a part of the defense who stopped Jordan oh yeah and bird had 4 hof on his team magic to drafted or not he still had them who has Cleveland drafted since lbj this is there 3rd no one pick Noone so don’t be mad because 3 players got together spurs have 3 hof on their team okc had kd Westbrook and harden and lost in 5 to Miami and wade is not a super star any more hasnt been for 2 years maybe not even an all star bosh either lbj made it to finals again with Cleveland he played his heart out and rest of players well wade could score 50 against any defense and now it’s hard for him to get 10 and his lack of mobility hurt heat on defense

      • v1ncente16 says:

        You deserve a thumbs up , sir.

  29. OrlandoHype says:

    The best move that i see him doing is going to the Houston Rockets, i dont see anyone beating James, Howard, Harden, and Parsons.

    • Average Joe says:

      They beat themselves. There’s not enough ball to go around if you’ve got Harden and James on the same team. Neither is gonna defer to the other so it’s not a good fit. Kiss the LBJ sweepstakes goodbye Houston.

  30. ken says:

    Most of these so called stars are ruining the nba especially when they all just want to play together to get a ring no one wants to play against anyone anymore and if the nba lets them they might as well sign their pink slips cause no nba fan that loves the game wants to see all Harlem globe trotters or blowouts all year round. Also just throwing this in the reffs need to swallow their whistles this year no more touch fouls or last second fouls making the game look rigged and players that flop should be suspended for the rest of the game or at least a whole quarter

    • Ryan says:

      Do you know anything at all about the history of basketball? Talking about how some “so-called” stars wanting to play together. First things first, if they’re only “so-called” stars, and you won’t give them the credit they deserve, then why do you care if they play together?? Secondly, back in the “Golden Era” of basketball, arguably when basketball was at its peak in the NBA, do you know how may hall of famers played on the same team? Back then it was just the Lakers from the west Versus the Celtics of the East. Do you ever hear anyone complain about how those stars played together? The lakers had Kareem, Magic, Worthy, they had other hall of famers in Mcadoo and wilkes. Even the non hall of famers on their team were outstanding i.e. Byron Scott, Michael Cooper, Mitch Kupchak. The Celtics of the east had up to 5 hall of famers on the same team for a few years in Bird, McHale, Parish, Bill walton and dennis johnson. They also had danny ainge on that same team. And you’re complaining how this is bad for the game?? Bosh won’t ever be a hall of famer, wade probably won’t either. So sit back and stop complaining and let them do what they want.

      • HEATFANSINCEWADE says:

        Wade is a hall of famer already you idiot…. What are you smoking? Both you and the dummy you responded to are haters. LBJ stays in Miami, he’d be a fool like you if he left. One bad series doesnt change the fact that your team went to 4 straight finals.

      • v1ncente16 says:

        Not being a Heat fan i think Wade def. should be considered as a hall of famer, being a face of the franchise for many years before James came and wining one title prior to that at least gives him a good hall of fame potencial and winning 2 now being a big part of it, I think the deal is close to done.

  31. UrWrong says:

    If he really wanted more rings he could go to the Blazers, they could trade Batum to clear cap space and give him a below max deal but still over around $16mil. The big 3 of Aldridge/Lillard/Lebron + Lopez and Mathews is better then what he could get about anywhere else.

  32. This has Lakers written all over it folks! SHOWTIME PART III

  33. Ballislife says:

    For all of you idiots that say LeBron can’t win a championship by himself, no one can do that

  34. SKUFIA says:

    WHO CARES!!! Every knows LJ will do just about ANYTHING to win more rings, especially sell himself!!! What a joke!!! He is but one player and he can’t win championships by himself. If you need any more proof – look at the legacy of MJ and the Lakers. It was an ENTIRE team that made it possible. Thank God that every player gets old and won’t be spotlight hog his entire life. Everyone FADES TO BLACK eventually. Good ridden! Why doesn’t he sign with an upcoming young team and help develop them? Oh yeah, I forgot..it’s beneath him! He wants all the accolades, MVPs, rings and brown noses he can get while he can. Look what it got A-ROD!!! LJ you are a complete DORK!!!

    • Celentano says:

      Lakers is a big market team, before there is no salary cap( luxury tax) that’s why lakers can sign any good players out there..look where they at now

    • Big Al says:

      SKUFIA, you are an idiot. Obviously, millions of Miami Heat fans and the fans of the team LeBron will be going next care. Your stupid comments are your opinion just like me calling you an idiot is my opinion. You can make your point without belittling the article or speaking for everyone. Thank you.

    • timpson says:

      Wow I like those comments lol

    • thespectator says:

      if your tryin to collect rings now you either ensure the team your on thats won titles gets revamped so they can go out and win titles or go somewhere else where you can instantly win titles…this isnt the 90s its the 2000-teens…people wont remember what teams he got on and left, people will remember the number of rings he won…shut up about all this nonsense and let em do what he needs to win rings…any player can do the same, you know you would too. why should i go to a team thats young and waste my prime years to help them get good enough to win a ring? this aint a charity..its about getting them rings..at the end of the day you still have to play and win games and win series and beat the best to get the trophy…haters find any lil thing to hate about jeez

    • lmao says:

      damn brah u good man? alot of hate lmao

    • Robert says:

      LeBron takes only 15 shots a game dude what you must think he’s kobe or kd they take almost 30 and out of those 15 he makes 10 just like against spurs harden could still shoot 30 shots a game to get same amount of points as lebron and howard would only need 10 and make about 7 on dunks and layups from being set up by lebron

  35. ken says:

    If I was lebron I would sign with charlotte simple to PLAY FOR THE BEST WHOEVER PLAYED and so I could play 1on1 with the best could still teach him stuff he dont know. For those who were NOT born before MJs time and didn’t see him play do not reply cause I dont have nothing else to say except GO KINGS! We will be back in playoffs since m aloofs are finally gone and our new arena is finally in the making

    • timpson says:

      Mj doesn’t want him on his team but I do like the ideal if u can’t beat the man play on his team.

      • Robert says:

        Are you drunk mj would want lbj just like bird wants him spurs won the championship this year against him and they want him that’s like saying magic wouldn’t want mj if he owned at team

  36. bballjunkie1 says:

    Pipe dream, Lebron signs a one year deal and wait on Durant now thats a real duo. Now where that one year is is anybody guess. U do have rim protector in New York (Chandler), young Harderway, able Stoudemer, with or without Carmelo cause someone else will come, maybe Carmel takes less and defer? Chicago is ready with or without Derrick Rose returning to old form, Cleveland young players, (mentor to Kyrie), Charlotte has players too, we will stay tuned?

  37. saeed says:

    I just can not believe how stupid LeBron is. If he remains in Heat and Riley adds Carmelo Anthony, there is no way he can shine his career anymore. The addition of yet another salary swallowing 30-year-old is totally and completely insane. What if Anthony gets injured?
    Then you have a team which is awfully less deep than your awful 2014 team with Dwyane Wade not being able to even come off the bench and Bosh probably playing only as a good bench player.
    What you gonna do?
    You lose this time and you are over being 2nd to Bird let alone MJ and other goods. Go to Cleveland. You play there a few years of your prime and by the time you get a little older, Jabbari and Kyrie are two young and experienced-by-then players who will help neutralizing your diminishing minutes.
    Meanwhile, if you stay in Miami and you add Anthony, you are expected to perform as an All-Star team. Anthony will make your defense even worse and you will neither have no shot blocker nor will you get younger.
    LeBron (I am a LeBron fan) will be one of the most stupid super stars I have ever seen if he stays in Miami.
    The only way it is acceptable, though not well auguring, of him staying in Miami is that Bosh and Wade being paid less than 5 million each which allows to add a shot blocker and a couple of really consistent role players.

    • thespectator says:

      what a imprudent imbecile lol

    • Andrew says:

      Funny reading some ignorant posts from slobbering fans. KJ doesn’t need to prove himself. He doesn’t need to leave the East. Will be dumb to move to the West…on any team. No one can compete against the Heat in the East. So why leave? Guaranteed Finals appearance in the East. I can see a big three in Chicago or a new big three in Miami without Chalmers or Lame Bosh.

  38. Ed says:

    “And yet, the Heat, if Wade and Bosh follow suit, still offer the best chance for championship contention for LeBron in his physical prime” I don’t know about that. If he went to Houston, Harden and Howard sound a lot better than Wade and Bosh to me.

    • thespectator says:

      cant beat experience and championship mindset…wade bosh and james all have the championship mindset…sure the talent houston has definately is much better than the current heat roster, however the west is a much more harder conference…why leave the east? its much easier for lbj to make it to the finals and possibly win it…but ofcourse if riley cant bulk up the bench and overall roster then lbj will most likely leave.

  39. Gman says:

    Hawks and suns…. and still no mention of the Raptors…

    • UrWrong says:

      If he really wanted more rings he could go to the Blazers, they could trade Batum to clear cap space and give him a below max deal but still over around $16mil. The big 3 of Aldridge/Lillard/Lebron + Lopez and Mathews is better then what he could get about anywhere else.

      • Average Joe says:

        My sentiments exactly. But if the Blazers could somehow find a way to retain Batum, then that would be truly awesome. They could have the option to play big or small. Nightmare on the defensive matchups.