and LeBron James
could both become unrestricted free agents this summer. (Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
This NBA season has been uncharacteristically light on free agent speculation. There is no defining narrative on where some superstar might head next nor any wall-to-wall coverage of their deliberations. Aside from the occasional murmur as to what might be next for Carmelo Anthony, the majority of the basketball discourse extends no further than the postseason.
There's a reason for that, and for the lack of preemptive offseason chatter. The free agent class of 2014 might be glitzy in hypothetical terms, but some of the best players potentially available aren't exactly poised for relocation. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh are among the best players in the league, though as Heat teammates they're in such good position to contend for a title that opting out of their current contracts seems rather unlikely. Bosh confirmed as much in an interview on The Dan Le Batard Show, as recapped by Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report:
The final true-or-false question is the one that will get the most attention.
Le Batard asked whether Bosh—who can opt out of his contract after this season—will be in Miami next year.
"True," Bosh answered.
"And so will LeBron...," Le Batard continued.
"True," Bosh replied.
This isn't exactly a binding agreement, especially since a negative response was wholly out of the question. But Skolnick is right to note later in his post that Bosh could have sidestepped the question entirely had he wanted to -- and as he's done many times before. Instead he gave personal affirmation to the thought of remaining in Miami, as well as his best guess as to what James might do in regard to his own early termination option.
If Bosh is right -- and if Wade, too, elects to remain with the Heat -- this summer might not see many impact players change teams. Anthony could well be attainable, but first he'll have to leave $23.3 million on the table to exercise his early termination option (ETO). The best young players on the market (Eric Bledsoe, Gordon Hayward, Greg Monroe, Isaiah Thomas) will all be restricted free agents, giving their incumbent teams the privilege to match any formal offer sheet. Dirk Nowitzki has made it clear that he doesn't intend to go anywhere, Pau Gasol and Paul Pierce have aged out of stardom, and the other quality players available (Lance Stephenson and Rudy Gay among them, should the latter decline his $19.3 million player option) aren't exactly franchise-defining talents.
It's entirely possible that the best player to change teams this summer is someone like Gasol or Thomas -- productive NBA talents, to be sure, though not at all of the same kind of catch as those listed free agents with an ETO or restricted status.