LeBron James opting out? Where do Miami Heat go from here?

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With reports that LeBron James will indeed opt out of his contract with the Miami Heat, suddenly the sting of the franchise being unable to complete the three-peat has been erased. Now the team turns into panic mode as they try to figure out how to bring Bron back to Miami while also wondering about the futures of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh who both also have the ability to become free agents this summer.

Miami Heat (54-28 last year)

2014-15 Projected Depth Chart:
C: ^Chris Bosh/Chris Andersen
PF: ^Udonis Haslem
SF: ^LeBron James
SG: ^Dwyane Wade
PG: Norris Cole

NBA Free Agents:
SF-LeBron James (UFA)
^SG-Dwyane Wade (PO)
^PF-Chris Bosh (PO)
^PF-Udonis Haslem (PO)
PG-Mario Chalmers (UFA)
SG-Ray Allen (UFA)
F-Rashard Lewis (UFA)
SF-Michael Beasley (UFA)
SF-James Jones (UFA)
PG-Toney Douglas (UFA)
C-Greg Oden (UFA)


2014-15 Team Salary: approximately $3.5 million

Team Needs:
1. LeBron:
Pretty simple; Miami needs to do everything in their power to re-sign LeBron James. Give him the key to the city, name the arena after him, buy him the entire beachfront; do whatever it takes.

The King figures to test the market with teams like the Lakers and Cavs headlining a list that has a realistic shot to lure LeBron out of South Beach. I still maintain that Miami has the best chance of keeping James but a lot will depend on whether or not Wade and Bosh choose to become free agents. If all three opt out but then are willing to take a paycut to return to the Heat which would give the team more flexibility in free agency to bring in more talent, that seems like the best option for LeBron.

If Miami is unable to make a new deal with LeBron happen, plan B will be exploring sign-and-trade deals so that they can bring back some talent in return. Teams like the Clippers, Rockets, Bulls, maybe the Knicks or Nets could all get involved in that scenario.

2. Depth. Everywhere:
With Chris Andersen and Norris Cole the only players under contract for next season, the Heat need to address every area whether the Big 3 returns to Miami or not. So let me break this up into two sections:

If LeBron returns: the Heat need to find a capable low post scorer, better point guard option, and improved shooters on the wing especially if Ray Allen does choose to retire.

If LeBron leaves: Miami needs to clearly find an alpha dog since Wade is past his prime and maybe needing to “reinvent himself” as Pat Riley suggested during his end of the year press conference. Plus, Bosh is simply not the go-to option on a title contender. If LeBron did just bolt via free agency, the Heat would have the cap space to land a marquee free agent and we all know how luring South Beach can be so the franchise wouldn’t have to go into a full fledged rebuilding effort. Any sign-and-trade deal should include a big name to help replace Bron’s superstar status.

OTHER NBA OFF-SEASON TEAM NEEDS PAGES:

ATLANTA HAWKS

BOSTON CELTICS

BROOKLYN NETS

CHARLOTTE HORNETS

CHICAGO BULLS

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

DALLAS MAVERICKS

DENVER NUGGETS

DETROIT PISTONS

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

HOUSTON ROCKETS

LOS ANGELES LAKERS

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES

MILWAUKEE BUCKS

MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES

NEW ORLEANS PELICANS

NEW YORK KNICKS

ORLANDO MAGIC

PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

PHOENIX SUNS

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS

SACRAMENTO KINGS

TORONTO RAPTORS

UTAH JAZZ

WASHINGTON WIZARDS

David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Milwaukee to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag), and finished with the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft (nearly a three-peat.) You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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