Report: Heat hold ‘absolutely no expectation’ LeBron James will return

Dan Feldman
NBC Sports

The Heat opened with the fifth-best odds of winning the 2019 title at 20-1 – behind only the Warriors (5-4), Rockets (7-2), 76ers (7-2) and Celtics (8-1). (The Lakers were also 20-1.)

Why did Miami hold such favorable odds?

LeBron James.

Oddsmakers baked into the odds where LeBron might play next season, and apparently him opting out of his contract with the Cavaliers then signing with the Heat drew consideration.

LeBron has been linked to the Rockets, 76ers and Lakers. So, their inflated odds make sense.

But Miami? Did oddsmakers know something? If so, the Heat apparently don’t.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:

there is absolutely no expectation inside the Heat that James will return.

LeBron and Pat Riley have drifted apart since the superstar left Miami in 2014. But LeBron and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert weren’t exactly close, and LeBron returned to Cleveland, anyway. The Cavaliers didn’t expect that, to the point they hired first-time head coach David Blatt intending on him guiding a young roster. Former Cavs general manager David Griffin has said he wouldn’t have done that if he knew LeBron were coming. Cleveland also had to clear cap space late once it appeared LeBron might come.

Essentially, if LeBron is thinking about returning to the Heat, they might not know about it yet.

But it’s still hard to see him back in Miami. The Heat are capped out, so opening max cap space would require downgrading this slightly above-average roster even further. That’d appeal to him?

Oddsmakers have moved toward Miami’s expectations, at least. The Heat’s title odds fell to 50-1.

Besides, why would they need LeBron when they already have Dion Waiters?

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