It’s not just Max Kellerman who thinks LeBron James returning to the Miam Heat makes sense.
According to a poll on ESPN.com involving 48 NBA players that came out Monday, at least a few players have the notion that James could leave the Cleveland Cavaliers and make his way back to Miami, where he spent four seasons as part of the Big 3 era and won a pair of NBA titles.
When players were asked where James would sign in the offseason, the Heat was the third-most popular selection. Granted, Miami received 7 percent of the vote — equaling to three of the 48 players saying they think James will make his way to Miami. The top two choices: the Cavaliers (59 percent) and the Los Angeles Lakers (22 percent).
When asked where James should sign — not necessarily where they think he will sign — 8 percent of players polled said he should sign with the Heat, tied with the Lakers for second. The Cavaliers again led the way with 66 percent.
When asked which player he should pair up with, former teammate Dwyane Wade was in a three-way for first place at 12 percent with the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Houston Rockerts’ Chris Paul.
In a separate post on the website, ESPN’s Adam Reisinger made the case for why James would choose eight NBA teams and how those eight teams would make it work.
As for why James would pick Miami, Reisinger wrote: “James already took his talents to South Beach once, winning two MVP awards and two titles, so could we be in for a Heatles reunion? Pat Riley and Dwyane Wade mended fences over their contentious breakup, so it’s possible James and Riley could do the same. Plus, by staying in the East, James would avoid the Warriors until the Finals.”
And for how the Heat would make the move work: “Because of moves made over the past two summers, the Heat will be closer to the luxury tax and not under the cap heading into this summer, so they’d have to be creative to add James. Unlike in 2010, when Miami and Cleveland worked out a sign and trade to acquire James and compensate the Cavaliers, this scenario is unlikely because the Heat would be faced with hard cap restrictions and there is no incentive financially for James. The other option would be to trade players like Hassan Whiteside, Dion Waiters and Tyler Johnson to teams with cap space to free up space to sign James, but that would be significantly more difficult especially with Johnson’s contract escalating from $5.8 million to $19.2 million in 2018-19.”