NBA Free Agency: LeBron James' 5 best destinations

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Jun 15, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) sits on the bench at the end of the game against the San Antonio Spurs in game five of the 2014 NBA Finals at AT&T Center. The Spurs defeated the Heat 104-87 to win the NBA Finals. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

The day we’ve all been waiting for has arrived. Per ESPN, LeBron James has decided to opt out of his deal with the Miami Heat and is now an unrestricted free agent. We’re not likely to see the public relations disaster that came along with his last free agency, but any time the best basketball player in the world is an unrestricted free agent, it’s a fascinating drama that will keep all of us glued to our sets. What are the five best destinations for LeBron?

When I say “best in the world,” there’s simply no arguments that can be made. James is the catalyst for a franchise that’s fresh off of their fourth NBA Finals in as many years. Despite the physical style of play he employs and the insane amount of minutes he logs, LeBron continues to get better, continues to refine his game and continues to work his way up into the “best to ever play” conversation.

The “Mount Rushmore” conversation is old and extremely subjective, but there are some LeBron facts we can agree upon. He is a physical freak, listed at 6-foot-8 and a very sculpted 250 pounds. He’s faster than anyone his size, stronger than anyone at his position and more skilled handling the ball than anyone outside of the point guard position. Simply put, he’s gifted genetically and he’s got the coordination and general skill set to take advantage.

It’s easy to overlook LeBron’s numbers because we’re so used to them, but he had yet another terrific season in 2013-14. He averaged 27.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 56.7 percent from the field, 37.9 percent from three and 75.0 percent from the foul line. Despite playing on a team with two other stars, he was still able to keep his contributions up near his career averages, most of which were built without a strong supporting cast.

Now that James has the option to go wherever he chooses, he can ensure he finds a spot with a strong set of teammates in a city he wants to live in. He’s holding the golden ticket while 30 NBA teams hold their breath. Let’s look at five spots that make a lot of sense.

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Tags: Chicago Bulls Cleveland Cavaliers Houston Rockets Lebron James Miami Heat NBA Free Agency Phoenix Suns

  • Sunshine State, OH

    Don’t believe the rumors that people want him back in Cleveland. Most Cleveland fans hate and will continue to hate LeBron James for as long as he’s around. Besides, we are doing fine without him. I can’t imagine the Cavs have done everything they have over the past few seasons with rebuilding through the draft all in a deliberate effort to bring back LeBron. Sure, they are keeping it open, but even as a best-case-scenario, they know of the backlash it would create for the organization if they signed him again.

    Anyone who truly believes in the Cavaliers and is a real fan wants to see them rise despite LeBron’s betrayal and earn their eventual leap-frogging of whatever team LeBron heads to next. It’s going to happen eventually.

    • Patrick Allen

      I am a Cavs fan and I absolutely want him back. He’s the best basketball player on the planet. Cleveland fans would be crazy not to want him back.

      I thought what he did was monumentally stupid (not leaving, just the way he did it) but him coming back and finishing what he started and leading the city to a title would be an awesome story.

      Who cares if he made a mistake one time? He didn’t personally do anything to me or any other Cavs fan. He just made a bad PR move.

      I want my team to win and LBJ gives my team the best chance to win right now. Bring him on back. I’ll help him unpack the moving truck.

      • Sunshine State, OH

        Don’t you follow this team, though? They are closing in on being relevant again and are on the right path to contention without LeBron. It isn’t like he accidentally made a mistake he didn’t understand; he abandoned us and left the team for dead. I’m sure he knew just how bad we would become without him. He grew up in Akron and Akron is practically a suburb of Cleveland with the amount of Browns-Indians-Cavs love they have but he chose to follow winning teams like the Bulls and Yankees instead of his local teams. He really doesn’t deserve to be a Cleveland great. I’ll admit he is an amazing athlete and great player but he burned the dream when he left town. Coming back and helping us win now will never make up for the titles he brought to Miami instead of us and I believe a lot of people agree with me on that. In fact, I personally won’t feel right about a championship that I feel is bought through LeBron’s mercenary services. He isn’t the local kid anymore. Down the road a bit, Wiggins is going to become good enough to neutralize LeBron in a seven-game series, or at least limit him like Leonard did, while scoring his own points and helping Kyrie and crew win the series. That’s the future we should be looking at. That’s the one I’m focused on.

        • Dominick Fabriano

          Okay you’re being a little dramatical now…. It doesn’t matter what he did, he has a family to feed man….. You would have done the same and if you say no then you’re a hypocrite and liar !

          • Sunshine State, OH

            You sound ridiculous. You make it sound as though he’s scrounging for money to feed his kids and that’s about as far from the truth as it could possibly be. When you are living that comfortably, you have the ability to consider what is truly important and he chose poorly. He really screwed up and I doubt he understands that. If I magically had been given the physical traits LeBron has and grew up being hyped as potentially the greatest ever for my sport, I would have certainly stayed with the hometown team, especially given that it’s a city with such a massive championship drought. I don’t know though; I get the feeling that most athletes are idiots at best and can’t think beyond “where my money at”. I wouldn’t fit in with that crowd at all.

          • Dickhurtz

            not to kiss your a$$ but dude, you are spot on . I have the same thoughts exactly . he actually makes me sick! I feel as though he is just a greedy guy but believe me that has nothing to do with his comparison to Jordan. I would tell it like it is either way . Jordan was just much better . you expected him every time to make that last second shot and he did. his teams did not fall behind in big games and get beat by crazy margins and he had a much lesser team than lebrons heat team. they are trying to buy him championships and doing so successfully and as it seems will continue to do so.

          • Percell Cole

            Cleveland fans sound like Tampa fans just ungreatful and since when fans have tre ability to put together a championchip team. Cleveland had been to the finals with a team that wasnt good at all thats why they losed. As a fan you have a history of losing period. And since when do you have to play were you grew up at beacuse the fans say so. Tim Tebow wasnt picked up by there local team and he was treated like some kind of God down here now look at him. So Kobe should have went to play in Philly, Shaq should have play for the Nets, Mj should have played for the Knicks and Magic should have played for the Pistons. Just be a fan win, lose or draw. Cleveland even with all the 1st round picks they have been getting over the years are not close to winning and if LBJ went back tyhey would still need some players to beat the best teams in the league. I say stay in Miami.

          • Dickhurtz

            a family to feed ?? r you serious ?? we are not talking about a guy with 3 children and going from 35k per year to 70 k or something , his grand kids grand kids probably wont be able to spend that kind of mone even if they went nuts so, WHO IS REALLY BEING DRAMATICAL???

          • Bnichols77

            Is “dramatical” a word? And besides, how can you call someone a hypocrite and liar when all they are doing is expressing their opinion? Oh, right…when you call them that, you are just expressing yours. Just ignore me…I’m off my PEDS.

        • Jake

          Closing in on being relevant again? So in other words you’re almost halfway to the point where people stop feeling sorry for you for being a Cavs fan. Correct me if I’m wrong here but aren’t the Cavs picking #1 in this year’s draft? That’s usually the first indication that your team is not doing very well. I’d say Cleveland could use all the help they can get. It was 20 years of losing before Lebron and it’s been nothing but losing since he left.

          • Dickhurtz

            so, if you really cant understand the man he is calling lebron a pride less sell out, which he is! its like having a guy that’s broke but instead of bowing down to take money from some person who is going to make you feel super small he tells you hey, no thanks, I would rather do without than to take your charity . anyway, good for sunshine that’s a man with some pride cant say the same for you big shot. JORDAN FOREVER BABY!! NOT EVEN CLOSE!

          • Sunshine State, OH

            This guy gets it. LeBron has no loyalty, no pride. I agree that Jordan was the man, though I was more into baseball as a kid and really missed his prime. Watching highlights and seeing his stats, not to mention his absolute dominance as well as the Bulls’, really paints a picture. LeBron is awesome surely, but he has serious character flaws that made him forever dead to Cleveland, at least in my book. If he does comes back, it’ll just never be the same to some (most) of us.

          • Dickhurtz

            LIKE HOW YOU THINK

          • Jake

            The only character flaw he has is being too much of a showboat. He wanted to win, that’s why he left Cleveland. I hate the way he left, it was classless and horribly conceited. But I can’t really blame him for leaving to join a winning team. I think he’s probably grown some since The Decision, I doubt we’ll see that again. Cleveland should want Lebron back if they want to be a winner. Can they win without him? Maybe but the odds are better with him.

          • Bryson

            U have not clue What ur saying because u know if lebron went back t Cleveland they would root for him because he will actually bring a winning aditude to the cavs

          • Jake

            You talk about Lebron being a sellout who only cares about money and then you say Jordan forever? You do realize Jordan used to charge for his autographs right? Jordan was the all-time sellout.

          • Dickhurtz

            Really ? That’s the best u got? Ok, good one jake! If u don’t think lefake charges for everything and then some you are out of your mind but have a good day.

          • Sunshine State, OH

            Picking #1 based on ridiculous odds, not because we were awful. Yes, the Cavs fell way short of expectations, but a huge part of that was Mike Brown as well as risks not paying off in the short run. Deng played terribly for the kind of player he has shown to be in the past. Bynum was useless. Jarrett Jack has played well below his ceiling, too. Don’t even mention Bennett and Karasev. All of these things are in part due to Brown’s coaching. It’s also huge to note that we can get two max FAs on top of this draft pick, so we could reasonably have a team full of current and future stars this coming season, though I’d prefer to wait it out and develop the talent we have. Still, if you put LeBron and another good FA with Kyrie, Wiggins, Varejao, Dion, and the rest, that team is a 1st round homecourt for sure and probably the favorite to win it all. Believing otherwise is ludicrous.

    • Aubrey Martin

      Doing fine without him?

      OK.

  • Michael Meehan

    The Suns! Ha. Good one, Dunlap. Put the T-Pups on there, too! =P

    I’d love to see him join Melo somewhere. Only because then…he would keep on losing! Rofl.

  • J Taylor

    Short sighted…. go figure, it’s from Fansided.
    Funny how the writer arbitrarily picks the Hawks and Suns, but passes on the biggest stage in the NBA. He must have a bias against the Lakers since they should be included in ANY list as they can offer the most and can offer Hollywood and $20M in endorsements.

    When will Fansided get an editor that — at least — tries to publish works of basic credibility?

  • mooiemooie

    Looks like someone read Zach Lowe’s article before writing…

  • Real M-Fing talk !!!

    Lebron cares what people think, more than anyone with money should…. and i believe that will effect his decision to stay in Miami, which is obviously the wrong decision. Wade as the senior member should have been the first to opt-out and take a paycut, but Wade knows he’s done he may reluctantly give up his 42 million in exchange for a 4/5 deal at 50-60 million… and that Dinosaur hatchling needs to follow Wade’s potential lead and do the same, NO team needs a 20 million dollar player taking 3 pointers and mid range jumpers all game…

    Lebron needs to ask himself if Riley can sign 3 starters , move Wade to the bench and build a decent bench.. considering Riley has done nothing in 4 years why would Lebron believe this off season will be different… no players should be forced to lead his team in scoring, rebounding, assist and carry a major defensive role… while 2 others are making the same amount !

    Clips should be option one, but i don’t like the idea of giving up Jordan to make room…. the Rockets would be option 2 but Harden’s defense is an issue and Harden is a major volume shooter, the opposite of Lebron’s thinking… Lebron needs to ask himself if he can come back with the Stupidity of Spoelstra coaching the team. If Riley believed he could “retool” the team and lighten Lebron’s load, Riley wouldn’t have called that cowardly press conference to attack Lebron… one think i know that wasn’t a shot at Chalmers !…. James really needs to think about that !!!…. Lebron did not come to south beach for the Heats 10 plus year plan of winning a few rings… Lebron came to south beach for his PLAN and that’s to WIN NOW !!!

  • Joe

    Love to have him back.
    Character flaws?
    Wanting to win, wanting to play with buddies, wanting a change of scenery, wanting to do what he thought his fans wanted him to do, wanting to do what his friends wanted him to do, wanting publicity, etc. are not character flaws; they are NORMAL character TRAITS of a young man.
    This man, not so young anymore, will do things in a more mature way this time, and he may or may not return to Ohio, but I guarantee the fans will greet him with a thunderous ovation if he does.
    It’s hard to find anyone more loyal to Cleveland sports than me, and it’s harder to find anyone more knowledgeable about young men.
    And I’ve been a fan of the Cavs since their creation, the Browns and Indians since my birth when the Indians were defending world champions for a couple of weeks, and the Browns were still dominating the All-America Football Conference.
    Good luck to Lebron, and I hope to see him playing in Cleveland.
    He may be misguided at times, he may make some mistakes, but he tries as hard as anybody in recent memory to do the right thing.
    He wants to do well, and he is beginning to realize that every move you make in life antagonizes someone and engenders hatred in others.

    • Dickhurtz

      Dude read the list of things you said are not character flaws . If you really believe that then you are one big character flaw

      • Joe

        Two problems:
        1. Your failure to coherently argue your point.
        2. Your failure to clarify what your point is.
        Maybe you don’t have any insight into 20-something males.
        Maybe you haven’t coached, taught, advised, raised young people.
        Think into it.

    • Dickhurtz

      Joe , I am not typing in, and repeating the dumb things that you think are priorities for this guy and good character traits however, you lost me right away with wanting to play with his buddies and a change of scenery . Dude , I have no words except a little short bus comes to mind. Try not to bite the lunch lady tomorrow ok pal.

      • columbus truest

        All this speculations about what LeBron did or didn’t do! None of you are in the nba, none of you know whats going on behind closed doors in the nba! All you can do is speculate and speak your peace based off the media! How you know this wasnt all planned out! Just because dan gilbert gets on national tv and says one thing you believe it! Remember its still t.v.! Only people know the truth behind the decision is the people involved in it! You mofos sound like females talking about the soap opera’s ! There is a story line to everything! I fully support LeBron and the Cavs whatever the decisions are! He is a buckeye and this is his home and basketball just happens to be his job! He dont need all this negativity from people who dont know the whole truth, aint had his opportunity’s or walked a mile in his shoes! Let this man breath and live his life!!! He is the best in this era! And know its entertainment and it has a storyline to it! Know complete truth before you pass judgement! Lebron let the outside haters (jealousy or envy) be the fuel to ignite your fire and the motivation to continue to be GREAT!

        • Dickhurtz

          Stop all the jive turkey Sanford and son talk like you have a clue because your idol is from ohio too. Stop watching all the spike lee movies and turn off your don’t believe the hype music and think for yourself homeboy! The dude is a sellout and left your Ohioans high and dry but your so naive your going to welcome him back with open arms. Hey, I heard he’s hiring for ironing his underwear and sounds like you would do a perfect job for your gutless hero. MICHEAL JORDAN IS THE BEST ALL-TIME!! And he is a gentleman with character unlike your hero who wouldn’t give you a drink if you were dieing of thirst and he owned an ocean of fresh water .

  • columbus truest

    All this speculations about what LeBron did or didn’t do! None of you are in the nba, none of you know whats going on behind closed doors in the nba! All you can do is speculate and speak your peace based off the media! How you know this wasnt all planned out! Just because dan gilbert gets on national tv and says one thing you believe it! Remember its still t.v.! Only people know the truth behind the decision is the people involved in it! You mofos sound like females talking about the soap opera’s ! There is a story line to everything! I fully support LeBron and the Cavs whatever the decisions are! He is a buckeye and this is his home and basketball just happens to be his job! He dont need all this negativity from people who dont know the whole truth, aint had his opportunity’s or walked a mile in his shoes! Let this man breath and live his life!!! He is the best in this era! And know its entertainment and it has a storyline to it! Know complete truth before you pass judgement! Lebron let the outside haters (jealousy or envy) be the fuel to ignite your fire and the motivation to continue to be GREAT!

  • Woody

    I guess they all need to write about something to justify collecting a paycheck, but this is complete nonsense and I’m not sure why I wasted time reading it.

  • DC

    Why not go to the Knicks? Preferrably with but even possible without Melo.

  • Razor Blade

    Settle down everyone Lebron James will go to the New York Knicks. Credit the new GM Phil Jackson, Coach Derek Fisher and the New York Market $$$!!

  • Straightliving

    Who cares