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The news of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh opting-out of their contracts over the weekend surely meant in the minds of many that LeBron James and the Big Three would all take less money and stay with the Miami Heat. I mean why not? They did it (to a lesser extent) in 2010.
Contrary to that popular belief however, Brian Windhorst of ESPN is reporting that The King is looking for a max-deal and will not accept any less than $22.2 annually, according to ESPN.com. Windhorst goes on to report that teams who contact James will be immediately informed that he will not accept any less than that figure of $20.7 million.
This is interesting news considering all the franchise possibilities that were speculated in the past two weeks. While Miami (and every other team) would be better served if James went the “cheap” route, this news makes Miami the clear-cut front-runner now.
The Rockets, Knicks, Nets and others have very little cap space and would have to pull a rabbit out of their hat to get James aboard with a max-contract, though the Rockets would be better off if they could find someone to take the bloated Jeremy Lin contract. Meanwhile Miami could easily afford him should Wade and Bosh sign for the home-team discount.
This is a clear message sent by James that he is done sacrificing and will not do it this time around.
Only seven current teams could afford James at the max-level: Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz, Philadelphia 76ers, Orlando Magic and of course the Miami Heat.
Of those seven teams, only one has a realistic shot: the Miami Heat.
James opted out of the final year of his contract early last week, in a move that surprised absolutely no one.