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?”