Miami’s Big 3 of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are expected to give team president Pat Riley a window to negotiate deals with them and pursue other free agents. Yahoo! Sports reports the framework of deals for Miami to keep James, Bosh, Wade and power forward Udonis Haslem, who joined the Big Three in opting out of his contract, are already in place.
On Saturday, after Riley announced Wade, Bosh and Haslem decided to become unrestricted free agents (news of James’ opting out came last week), SI.com’s Ben Golliver explained the ramifications of the opt-out decisions. On the current scenario of James, Bosh, Wade and Haslem all opting out of their contracts:
Option 5: James, Bosh, Wade and Haslem all opt out. In this scenario, as it has reportedly played out, Riley now has the largest possible pie to divvy up among his players. Hypothetically speaking, if Bosh and Wade are willing to re-sign multi-year deals that pay them in the neighborhood of $15 million each next season, and Haslem will take $3 million, that leaves $20+ million for James, with some room left over for chasing free agents. If James was also willing to concede some salary, Miami could even find itself with enough open cap space to add an impact free agent before turning to its exceptions.
The Heat are coming off their fourth consecutive Finals, where they fell in five games to the San Antonio Spurs. James, who ranks first on SI.com's list of top 25 free agents, will reportedly seek a maximum salary for next season.
That brings us to 2014, when the NBA could be facing either: 1) the largest redistribution of power since 2010, or 2) a relatively ho-hum free agency period defined by re-signings rather than roster reconstructions. The same names that turned the league upside down four years ago -- James, Wade and Bosh -- are front and center this summer, even if the relative power balance between the threesome has shifted somewhat during their time together.
Miami is the clear front-runner to sign James, who surely understands that the Heat would be strongly favored to make a fifth straight Finals trip if they simply bring back a similar cast. That said, "How much will James cost?" and "Will he leave money on the table to help Heat president Pat Riley build out a deeper roster?" remain open questions. Wade, Bosh and longtime Heat power forward Udonis Haslem all joined James by opting out, which makes for some real intrigue. Given that San Antonio isn't going anywhere next season, a little financial sacrifice from Miami's stars -- James included -- could be key to its 2015 title hopes.