Regardless of what happened in the NBA Finals this week, Miami's LeBron James is still one of the greatest ever to play in the NBA.
But when it comes to winning NBA titles, it's clear that James needs help - lots of help.
That's why the idea of him staying in Miami makes little sense now.
The Dwyane Wade of old is not walking through that door.
The clutch shooting of Chris Bosh?
Yeah, that's gone, too.
When you throw in Father Time finally catching up with the rest of James' Miami cohorts, it's pretty clear that the best chance at him winning another title will have to come in a new zip code.
That zip code will likely be in Los Angeles.
And it won't be running as Kobe Bryant's sidekick with the Los Angeles Lakers, but instead with the on-the-rise Los Angeles Clippers.
The Clippers will need to get this Donald Sterling mess worked out obviously. But that aside, there doesn't appear to be another team that 1) is close to winning a title, 2) is a city that James would approve, and 3) has the pieces in place now to not only acquire James but ship out a high impact player that the Heat would be pleased with acquiring.
And that piece the Clippers would have to part with?
We're talking about Blake Griffin.
He is a perennial All-Star whose game is indeed expanding before our very eyes. But if you're the Los Angeles Clippers and Griffin stands between you and acquiring LeBron James, how tough of a call is that really to make?
In the Clippers, James would have a chance to play for a coach (Doc Rivers) that he has a tremendous amount of respect for, to the point where he reportedly tried to recruit Rivers to be his coach.
James would also get a chance to play with Chris Paul, one of his closest friends.
And the X-factor in a James-to-Los-Angeles trade is that it would likely have a similar ripple affect in Los Angeles to what happened in Miami when James and Chris Bosh joined forces with Dwyane Wade in Miami.
Ray Allen. Rashard Lewis. Shane Battier.
All three came to Miami for salaries that were clearly below market-value, with the only goal being to win an NBA title.
They each accomplished that goal.
When you look at free agents this summer, it would come as a surprise too if a trade of James to the Clippers would then lead to former Celtic Paul Pierce signing on with the Clippers as well.
Even with Pierce in Brooklyn this past season and Rivers in Los Angeles, the two remained close with the kind of bond that both have said repeatedly will never go away.
Adding him to an already talented Clippers team that's now led by Paul and James, could be just what the Clippers need in order to get past the Western Conference's elite teams such as Oklahoma City and the current champ, the San Antonio Spurs.
But again, this could be one of the many options James will give some thought to if he indeed opts out of his contract with the Heat.
Because as much as James has made it clear that he loves Miami and the entire Heat franchise, he also loves winning championships.
And that isn't going to happen in Miami anytime soon, not with an aging roster and few assets coming up to significantly improve.
So he may find himself in a similar plight he was in during his years in Cleveland, attached with a good team but not capable of winning it all.
His departure upset many, but the end result - two titles in four seasons - validates his decision as being the right one.
Because in LeBron's world, winning titles is all he really has to play for now.
And for that to continue, he's probably going to need to take his talents away from South Beach and venture out West to La La Land.
-- A. Sherrod Blakely, CSN New England
- Sports & Recreation
- LeBron James
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Los Angeles
- Chris Bosh
- Dwyane Wade