Just days after Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs were crowned NBA champions, the world shifted its focus back to LeBron James. And Carmelo Anthony.
After leading the Miami Heat to a fourth-straight Finals appearance, but missing out on a three-peat, LeBron and his family left for vacation. Before he departed yesterday, the superstar dropped a huge announcement: He would opt of his contract and become a free agent.
The Heat, according to team president Pat Riley, weren’t surprised by the decision. “We fully expected LeBron to opt-out and exercise his free agent rights,” Riley said. “The last four seasons have been historic. We look forward to sitting down with LeBron and his representatives and talking about our future together.”
Since LeBron joined Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami in 2010, the Big Three has produced two NBA championships and four straight finals appearances so far – a feat that has rarely been accomplished. LeBron’s decision to opt out means an uncertain future, both for him and the Miami Heat.
LeBron will become a free agent on July 1. That’s when he’ll be allowed to communicate and negotiate with the Heat about a new deal — or any other NBA teams who might want to have him on their roster. And there should be a lot of interest.
This is where Carmelo Anthony could come in.
Earlier this week, Melo announced that we would opt out of his contract with the New York Knicks. He’s been in New York since getting traded to the Knicks by the Denver Nuggets in the 2010-11 season. But after another season of missing out on the postseason, Anthony seems to have decided to take his talents elsewhere.
"Carmelo loves being a Knick, he loves the city, and he loves the fans," Melos’s agent Leon Rose said. "At this stage of his career, he just wants to explore his options."
Like LeBron, Melo could renegotiate a deal with the Knicks. If he returns to Madison Square Garden, he’ll have a new coach in former NBA champion Derek Fisher. And the Zen Master Phil Jackson won’t be far away as president of the team.
But the chances are slim he’ll play another game in Knicks orange and blue — which has led many people to hope that Melo and LeBron could end up on the same team in 2014.
However things play out, one thing’s for sure: This will be an offseason to remember. And everyone will be watching, listening, and waiting for these superstars’ next big decisions.
Photos: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images, Harry How/Getty Images