Already in his 30s and with plenty of miles on his body, LeBron James appears to be looking ahead to the next phase of his career.
Decisions have been made, trades forced, contracts signed, fates chosen, taking the teen stars down starkly different paths. The bond endures. The vision of a James-Anthony partnership does, too.
"I really hope that, before our career is over, we can all play together," James said. "At least one, maybe one or two seasons -- me, Melo, D-Wade, CP -- we can get a year in. I would actually take a pay cut to do that."
Maybe at the end of their careers, James said. Maybe sooner. One more ring chase, this time with everyone on board.
"It would be pretty cool," James said. "I've definitely had thoughts about it."
Before bounding away, he smiles and closes with a coy chirp: "We'll see."
All of this amid near constant trolling in the social media by James virtually throughout the season and reaching its fever pitch when he recently worked out with Wade in Miami. Cryptic messages on social media have followed with topics such as brotherhood and the virtues of team bonding.
James already said he'd win several titles with the Miami Heat ("not one, not two, not three...") at the celebratory rally held after the Big 3 all signed in 2010. But then he left two years ago to Cleveland for the purpose of bringing at least one title back home.
We already know Wade isn't going anywhere, and James certainly enjoys hanging out in South Florida, so would a reunion in Miami realistically be the only destination for such a collaboration?
Elsewhere in the piece there is a passage which details how Anthony could have been the third player to join forces with Wade and James in 2010 instead of Chris Bosh. Back in 2006, James reportedly said in a conference call with his two friends that he wanted to sign a three-year deal so that all three would be free agents in 2010.
"Listen. I think I'm going to do a three-year extension, because in 2010 we can become free agents at the peak, right there in the prime of our career."
Anthony would eventually sign a longer deal and was not a free agent that year.
Both Wade and James can be unrestricted free agents this summer. Anthony is under contract with the Knicks until the 2017-18 season with a player option for the following season. Paul is under contract with the Los Angeles Clippers until next season with a player option for an addition season.
Just like James himself says, "We'll see."