Another ‘decision’ looms for Miami Heat’s LeBron James

 

Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh say they want to finish their careers in Miami, but LeBron James has been noncommittal.

WEB VOTE Which Miami Heat championship do you cherish the most?

bjackson@MiamiHerald.com

The questions already have begun, more than a year before there will be any definitive answers.

LeBron James — who, like teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, can opt out of contracts and become free agents in the summer of 2014 — was noncommittal when asked about that topic by CNN.

“I don’t know, because I haven’t really even thought about it,” James said in an interview that aired Monday. “So when that moment comes up, I will approach it, like a professional, and we’ll see what happens.”

During 2010 free agency, James was criticized for announcing his plans “to take my talents to South Beach” during a 60-minute ESPN special, The Decision, that raised money for a Boys and Girls Club.

“You learn from your mistakes,” James said. “That’s something I’ve lived with, and if the opportunity comes if I’m in that position [again], I’ll be able to handle it much differently.”

Bosh said recently he wants to spend the rest of his career here. And Wade said Monday he will probably be in Miami “for the rest of my life, in this amazing city.”

James will not speak to reporters until Tuesday. Wade spoke Monday and said the three players have not discussed their long-term plans, “just like we never even envisioned we would play together until free agency came about, and it became a reality.

“Now, we’re in the middle of this great, historic team and run and we’re enjoying it and you don’t want it to come to an end. But you can’t think about the future. When that time comes after next season, when we have to sit down and talk about the futures and what direction they’re going in, hopefully they’re all going in the same direction. We’ll do what we did in 2010 — sit down as men and talk about it.”

An associate of James said he would make Miami the strong favorite to retain him in 2014, with Cleveland potentially also drawing some consideration. But the associate also cautioned that a year before free agency in 2010, nobody would have made the Heat the front-runner.

By opting out next summer, James can earn more than the $20.59 million he’s due in 2014-15 or the $22.1 million he would earn in 2015-16 if he exercises that year’s player option. Bosh’s contract is identical financially to James’ deal.

Wade’s contract, if he eschews opting out, would call for $20.048 million in 2014-15 and $21.56 million in 2015-16.

Opting out also would give any of them the ability to add additional seasons to their contracts.

But before any of those decisions, the Heat will try to become just the fourth franchise (and sixth team overall) to win three titles in a row, joining the 1952-54 Minneapolis Lakers, the 1991-93 and 1996-98 Chicago Bulls, the 2000-2002 Los Angeles Lakers and the 1959-1966 Boston Celtics, who won eight in a row.

“Magic Johnson has five rings, and he never won three in a row,” Wade said. “That shows how tough it is. We’re going to be back next year hungry again to try to place ourselves in history.

“Winning back-to-backs is special; winning back to back to back would be something out of this world. That will be our goal: How do we come back and muster up enough to keep us focused and … hungry throughout this season to get back in a position to win another championship?”

Friendly fight

During the Heat’s post-parade celebration inside AmericanAirlines Arena, Wade cracked: “Me and LeBron were about to fight in Game 6.”

Wade, who is close friends with James, was asked about that later in the day.

“When you are in moment and every possession counts and someone messes up or someone feels like someone messes up — not block out or turn the ball over — you give each other death stares. You complain. We had a moment of each other of back and forth. Our teammates were looking at us like, ‘We don’t see this often.’ But we wanted to win so bad. After that, we move on.”

Resting his knees

Wade said he has been advised to give his knees a month of rest. After that, his focus will be on rebuilding strength in his legs.

Wade said the discomfort in his right knee — which had three bone bruises — “was terrible” during the first three rounds, especially in the Indiana series.

It improved in the Finals, after “our trainers started treating it a little different.”

His left knee, which was injured in a Game 6 collision with Spurs guard Manu Ginobili, required “painful” draining last Wednesday and hours of treatment Thursday, the day of Game 7. He reiterated he doesn’t expect to need surgery.

This and that

• Wade said he felt his 2006 championship was for Alonzo Mourning and Gary Payton “and those guys who played so long and never won,” and the 2012 title was “LeBron’s [because] he never won one. Get that monkey off his back.”

But Wade said this championship “is for me. There’s not a lot of players in that category of winning three. I wanted to be there for the legacy I’m building.”

Said Udonis Haslem: “With those knees, he can have it.”

• Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said this championship “felt more challenging.”

• Spoelstra showed his team another replica NBA championship trophy before and during the playoffs; the Heat made check marks on it after each win.

“It’s more of a contract, promises we made to each other each,” he said. “We would bring it out from time to time to remind ourselves of the promises.”

Spoelstra said it was marked blood red for the Bulls and Pacers because “the series were so dang physical,” and silver for the Spurs series “out of ultimate respect for our competitor.”

• Shane Battier will conduct player interviews during ESPN’s NBA Draft coverage on Thursday.

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