Heat's LeBron James sidesteps questions about future after third Finals loss
SAN ANTONIO -- Humbled and dethroned by the Spurs, the Heat's three All-Stars weren't ready to comment on their next moves Sunday night.
San Antonio defeated Miami 104-87 to to win the NBA Finals in five games, sending LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh into an uncertain summer on a losing note.
James, Wade and Bosh all possess early termination options in their contracts, meaning they can become unrestricted free agents this summer if they so choose. All three could also decide to opt in for the 2014-15 season, thereby delaying their decisions until next summer, when they would again possess options for 2015-16, the final season of their current, concurrent contracts.
All eyes, of course, are on James, who left the Cavaliers for the Heat in 2010 and shook up the NBA's power structure in the process. After a Finals in which he delivered big but his teammates, including Wade, often lagged behind, James must decide whether he will continue to call South Beach home.
"I will deal with my summer when I get to that point," James said after Game 5 on Sunday night. "Me and my team will sit down and deal with it. I love Miami. My family loves it. But obviously right now that's not even what I'm thining about."
James was an All-NBA First Team, All-Defensive Second Team and an All-Star selection this season. He averaged 27.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.4 assists this season, but fell to 2-3 during his career in the Finals.
"I haven't even really thought about [my future] just yet," he said. "I'm not disappointed in any of my teammates, just wish we could have came through, played a better series, but obviously we ran up against a better team this year."
If James opts in, he would make $20.6 million next season. This year, rumors have swirled that the 29-year-old James might be interested in returning to Cleveland, or that Knicks All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony might try to join up with the Heat.
"I haven't heard it," James said, referring to the speculation about his future. "It really doesn't matter to me what people say at all."
Pressed again, the four-time MVP put his foot down: "You guys are trying to find answers. I'm not going to give you one. I'm just not going to give it to you. When I get to that point, I'll deal with it, and when it gets to that point."
Miami -- champions in 2012 and 2013 -- became the first team since the 1980s to advance to four straight Finals when they raced through the Eastern Conference this year. James said he doesn't believe the Heat need to solely focus on beating the Spurs heading into next season.
"I don't think it's just the Spurs, it's the whole league," he said. "The whole league continues to get better every single year. Obviously we would need to get better from every facet, every position. It's just how the league works."
Wade, 32, experienced some ups and downs this season, playing just 54 games as the Heat looked to keep the burden off his bothersome knees. He now must decide whether to opt out of a deal that is set to pay him $41.8 million over the next two seasons.
Some have wondered whether James will look for a new partner-in-crime now that Wade has moved past his peak seasons, but Miami's 10-time All-Star two guard said there was no set expiration date on the Big 3 experiment.
"It's been a hell of a ride in these four years," Wade said. "When we decided to play together, we didn't say, 'Okay, let's try for four years.' We said, 'Let's just play together and let's see what happens.' We've been successful in the sense of what we tried to accomplish, and that is going to the Finals, and we did it.
"We'd love to be four for four, it just wasn't in the cards for us to be that. We have no other reason not to be proud of each other for what we've accomplished on and off the court for these four years together."
The 30-year-old Bosh has expressed a desire to remain in Miami during recent interviews, and he holds a $20.6 million player option for next season. On Sunday, he sounded an optimistic tone about his future with James and Wade.
"We got plenty of time, hopefully," Bosh said, referring to what's next for the Big 3. "We’re all young men and hopefully we’re all healthy. This year I can’t complain. I made it through healthy this year with no nicks and scratches, bumps, anything like that, no bruises on me. I’m a lucky man so just move on from this and learn from it."
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