Neither the bliss of a championship win nor the sting of an NBA Finals loss will reportedly drive LeBron James' decision regarding his future.
The four-time MVP can opt out of his current contract and test free agency this summer if he's so inclined. A source told ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne that the outcome of these Finals will have no bearing on James' next move.
Now, that doesn't shed any light on which direction he's leaning; it simply means this series won't serve as the determining factor.
That still might qualify as good news for the Heat, though. After slipping into a 3-1 series deficit with Thursday night's 107-86 loss, Miami would need to flash historical survival skills to climb out of this hole, as pointed out by NBA.com:
If James were using the Finals as his free-agency test, he might already have a few bags packed. Not only have the San Antonio Spurs taken complete control of the series, but they have also rolled to three wins with an average margin of victory of 18.3 points.
The series isn't officially over, but it seems to be headed that way fast.
Fortunately for Miami, the casualties of a series loss wouldn't appear to stretch further than a missed chance at history. James might not be using the Finals as a barometer for his future, but some are wondering if he should.
"Failure has a funny way of changing one's perspective," USA Today's Sam Amick wrote, "and the way these Heat are going down at the moment should be more than enough for James to rethink the idea of re-upping with this group."
The Heat aren't putting up much resistance in the series despite James' best efforts. He scored a game-high 28 points on Thursday night, while none of his teammates managed better than 12. All-Star running mates Bosh and Dwyane Wade combined for only 22 points on 8-of-24 shooting.
With a slew of roster spots to fill over the summer, Miami could build an improved supporting cast around its superstar. Those efforts may have already begun, as Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com reported that the Heat have started examining their options "to make an ambitious run" at New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony.
Maybe Melo will be too big of a fish to catch, but the Heat will have the flexibility to make significant roster moves this summer.
Those moves and their impact on the franchise's future—not Miami's success or failure in the present—could play the biggest role in James' ultimate decision. That decision could prove to be more historically relevant than a championship-round win or loss.
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