LeBron James is still a member of the Miami Heat, plain and simple.
ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst reported Thursday that there's a belief among many NBA teams' executives that the Lakers are positioning themselves to make a run at James in 2014. James' teammate, Dwyane Wade, doesn't want to hear anything about such rumors, though.
"They need to leave my teammate alone with that, and go mess with somebody else," Wade said after the Heat's preseason win over the Pistons on Thursday. "He's gonna be here. We're straight."
As Windhorst points out, Kobe Bryant has stated more than once that he could retire after two more seasons. That means his $30.4 million, Pau Gasol's $19.2 million, Metta World Peace's $7.7 million, Steve Blake's $4 million and Jordan Hill's $3.5 million are all slated to come off the books, leaving Steve Nash's $9.7 million and Dwight Howard's salary -- if he re-signs with the Lakers -- as the only money tied up in Los Angeles in 2014. James could opt out of his current deal that season, although he's currently under contract with the Heat through 2016.
You know the NBA season needs to start when a report looking two years ahead generates this much much buzz. Then again, that's the LeBron effect.
James, as you'd expect, has stated that his focus is solely on defending Miami's title.
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