Earlier this week, Twitter exploded with sports journalists’ rumors of LeBron James pushing Miami to make a trade to guarantee picking Shabazz Napier in tomorrow’s NBA draft - and it's happened.
Back in April, LeBron mentioned he thought Napier was the best point guard in this year’s NBA draft. Pat Riley is rumored to have convinced Napier to perform poorly or not at all in his draft workouts.
But those rumors beckon one question: why would Lebron pressure a team he just opted-out-of playing for next year? The answer is: he’s playing for the Miami Heat next season.
This demand is telling of where LeBron James’ motivation is. James is committed to returning to the finals with the Miami Heat. This demand means James will take a pay cut to retool the Heat roster.
By force of momentum, James’ opt out will push all other players on the opt in/out fence to opt out. James will sign a Tim Duncan-like, $10m-a-year contract so Miami will be in position to have tens of millions of dollars in cap space to make offers to marque free agents.
Not only does this demand push other players to take generous opt outs, it says LeBron plans on being a Heat player for a long time. LeBron advocating the Heat to pursue a middle of the road rookie says he plans on being around long enough for Napier to develop into a contributor. Perhaps another four or five years?
Due to James’ interest in Miami’s draft pick, it’s safe to say Lebron James’ talent will be staying in south beach.