Just four years ago, the Heat were celebrating an NBA championship with Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh on the roster. Now, it looks like Dwyane will join LeBron in Cleveland and Chris is currently out of the league.
How did all of this happen and why? We answer that question and more in the latest installment of the Heat mailbag.
MIAMI — The top two teams in the Eastern Conference swapped star point guards.
The Celtics acquired Kyrie Irving from the Cavaliers for point guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic and Brooklyn’s 2018 unprotected first-round pick. What does this trade mean for the landscape of the Eastern Conference this season?
LeBron’s dissatisfaction with the Cavaliers since the team lost in the Finals to the Warriors in five games has been well documented, fueling speculation that he will be bolting Cleveland for a second time when he becomes a free agent next summer.
Most of the talk centers on LeBron heading to Los Angeles because of his business and entertainment ventures along with the fact that he owns a home in the L.A. area.
But Miami is always in the conversation considering LeBron chose South Florida once – albeit to play with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh – and won two titles in his four Finals appearances.
And LeBron loves stirring the pot. This summer he posted pictures of himself on a boat in Biscayne Bay with AmericanAirlines Arena in the background with the caption, “A ton of great memories riding past her today!!”
For that to happen, LeBron and Heat president Pat Riley would have to bury the hatchet after the messy breakup in 2014 in which LeBron announced in a letter entitled: “I’m coming home.”
And that’s just the start. Then there is the issue of the Heat freeing up enough money to afford LeBron.
LeBron’s success since returning to Cleveland – three consecutive Finals appearances and one title – has been similar to what he had in Miami. But he’s growing more frustrated with the way the Warriors are distancing themselves from the Cavaliers.
And while the chances of LeBron coming to Miami might be low, those of his teammate (for now) Kyrie Irving wearing a Heat uniform could be even lower.
LeBron was shocked by his point guard’s request to be traded. Irving reportedly has tired of playing with LeBron and would like to be on a team where he’s not in anybody’s shadow. And according to reports, Miami is one of the handful of cities where Irving would like to play, although without a no trade clause he has little say on where he lands.
ESPN reported Cleveland is seeking offers for Irving under the assumption LeBron is leaving and the Cavs are looking for players to help rebuild rather than win now, which would severely hurt Miami’s chances of acquiring Irving.
If Cleveland was seeking a veteran point guard to help the Cavs make a run this season, they might settle for a package centering around Goran Dragic and Justise Winslow.
But if the Cavs are looking for young stars and draft picks, Miami would be out of mix considering their young talent is not as good as those on teams like Boston, Phoenix, Minnesota or Denver. And the Heat cannot trade its first-round pick for the next five years.
Cleveland was playing the second night of a back-to-back on both occasions.
Barring injury, LeBron has no excuse this season when Cleveland plays in Miami. … Or does he? The Cavs are one of four Eastern Conference teams Miami faces three times instead of four and they come to Miami once – March 27.
The Cavs play at Brooklyn on March 25 and have an off day in Miami on the 26th before facing the Heat. Cleveland, though, plays at Charlotte on March 28 – their first back-to-back in March – so LeBron could decide to rest on the first night of the back-to-back this time.
On the three occasions LeBron has played in Miami since leaving the Heat, he is averaging 27.3 points. In his first game back after leading the Heat to four consecutive Finals appearances and two titles, he scored 30 points. The game was Christmas Day 2014. He then scored 26 in Miami later that season.
In 2015-16, LeBron rested for the first time that season in Miami on Dec. 5. He played in Miami on March 19 – after playing the previous night in Orlando – and scored 26 points.
Last season, LeBron spent more time on the dance floor at LIV than the court at AmericanAirlines Arena.
By the way, the Heat are 6-0 against the Cavs at home since LeBron returned to Cleveland.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are on the verge of imploding.
Point guard Kyrie Irving wants out, tired of playing Robin to LeBron James’ Batman, a story first reported by ESPN. And LeBron is toying with the idea of bolting Cleveland for a second time when he becomes a free agent next summer, according to multiple reports.
The two situations have Miami Heat implications. Miami was one of four teams Irving reportedly told the Cavs he’d prefer to play for if they could agree on a trade. Irving, though, does not have any kind of trade clause in his contract meaning Cleveland can deal him to any team without his consent.
The Heat recently denied an ESPN report that they offered point guard Goran Dragic and small forward Justise Winslow as the centerpieces for an Irving trade.
And while the speculation remains that LeBron is eager to move to Los Angeles and has the Lakers on his mind, the Heat always are mentioned as a possible destination for the four-time MVP. LeBron spent four years with the Heat, winning two titles, before returning to Cleveland. He recently caused a stir by posting pictures – and appearing nostalgic – while vacationing in Miami.
With that in mind, odds already are being placed on where James will begin the 2018-19 season and where the Heat fall may surprise you.
Miami is eighth on the list of LeBron’s most likely landing spots at 25-to-1 behind even Minnesota and Philadelphia, according to BetOnline.AG.
Cleveland remains the favorite at +250 but the Lakers are the most likely team to sign LeBron if he leaves the Cavs with the odds set at 3/1.
Los Angeles is followed by Boston (7/1), Houston (10/1), San Antonio (10/1), Minnesota (14/1) and Philadelphia (16/1) before Miami.
Golden State (28/1) is just behind the Heat.
Miami also has the eighth-best odds to land Irving, according to Bovada.lv. The Heat are listed at 20-to-1 to have Irving on its roster for the first game of the 2017-18 season.
It began with an ESPN report that indicated the Heat had made a trade offer to the Cavaliers for Kyrie Irving. And it continued with a strong denial from the Heat that any offer had been made to Cleveland.