LeBron James' future with the Miami Heat remains unclear in the wake of the player opting out from his current deal with the franchise this week.
Should he walk away from the team with which he has won two NBA titles, the negative effects on Eric Spoelstra's team would be inevitable.
But reports have today revealed that it could have an eye-watering impact on the value of the Heat as a franchise too.
Millions at risk
This figure has been compiled having looked into the rising value of the franchise in contrast to other NBA team's since James arrived in Miami ahead of the 2010-11 season as well as the obvious marketing value brought in of the four-time NBA MVP.
Since James first appeared in a Miami Heat jersey, owner Micky Arison has seen the franchise's value increase by $304 million (from $364 million to $770 million) according to the most recent estimates.
This is around $140 million more than other franchises in the same period whilst the Miami team's overall revenue has grown from $124 million in 2010 to an impressive $188 thanks to LeBron and co's presence on and off the court in Florida.
With that in mind a Miami Heat without LeBron James as the face of the franchise would see those figures severely drop with fans less inclined to follow the team so closely if it didn't include the greatest player of his generation.
TV is Key
Audiences figures are obviously no more keenly felt than in television deals - the life blood of many NBA franchises.
The last deal signed by the Heat back in 2008, two years prior to the arrival of "King James", was worth a staggeringly low $20 million per year over a 10 year period.
With the team coming off the back of an awful 15-67 season though it is hardly surprising.
Now though, with the Big Three era having yielded four consecutive NBA Finals appearances and a legion of new fans who, lets face it, have been drawn in large part by the aura of LeBron, their next contract with a major TV network promises to be a lucrative one.
If LeBron is still around that is.
The Heat are reportedly in talks for a potential 2018 deal worth anywhere from $80 million to $100 million. But a lot of that added value relies upon the draw of James.
Without him that figure would likely fall significantly.
What next for LeBron
The Miami Heat are, as you would expect, desperate to keep hold of the 28-year-old superstar and while opting out may look ominous at first many have suggested that the move has been made in order for James to sign a reduced rate contract in order to facilitate increased spending on the Heat roster as a whole.
If the dramatic valuation loss predicted is to be believed then Heat fans, and more accurately owner Micky Arison, will be hoping that is the case.
Check out LeBron's offensive highlights from last season below...
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms