As first reported by ESPN’s Chris Broussard, LeBron James has exercised the early termination option in his contract, and as such is a free agent, though, “opting out does not mean James has decided to leave the Heat.”

Of course, the mere mention of LeBron James has caused the salivary glands of NBA general managers and fans to start working overdrive.

Should he decide that he’s “Taking his Talents to [Insert Team],” there are a number of attractive metropolitan hotspots that would gladly welcome the best basketball player in the world.

Let’s take a look at his options and talk a little bit in order of the likelihood that he’ll be wearing their jersey during the 2014-15 NBA Season.

The New York Knicks

Well if...okay, all they have to do is...I mean...yeah, they’ve got zero chance. As a Knicks fan, I feel obliged to mention them, but...this is getting depressing. Let’s move on to... 

The Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers

You almost have to consider the former because, well, they’re the Lakers and NBA stars—from Wilt Chamberlain to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard—inevitably seem to find their way there.  They have space under the cap to sign LeBron outright, but the idea of playing in Kobe Byrant’s town for Kobe’s team, one that’s utterly devoid of assets, seems highly unlikely.

The Clippers, on the other hand are loaded. As soon as the courts are through with Donald Sterling, they’ll have an owner in former Microsoft head honcho Steve Ballmer that’s more than ready to spend whatever it takes to win a title. Oh, and a couple of guys named Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are pretty good too. The problem is, they’d have to trade a lot of guys and get nothing back in return as they’re already $10 million over the salary cap. They could certainly try to engage the Heat in a sign and trade, with the aforementioned Griffin being a definite conversation starter, but that’s assuming that Miami would be willing to aid LeBron’s departure. Were he to say something to the effect of, “I want to be a Clipper. Period,” then they become a serious player.

That said, he’d still have to make his way through a brutal Western Conference playoffs and go toe-to-toe with the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, and even lesser contenders like the Warriors, Rockets, Grizzles, and Trail Blazers. 

That’s a brutal path, even for a player of LeBron’s otherworldly gifts. There’s a much more friendly road to travail out East, which brings us to...

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