LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade have all reportedly opted out of their contracts. Now it seems as though they are working together to structure deals to stay together. Even if they stay with Miami Heat and the numbers match up, none of it matters if they don’t have the right pieces around them.
It appears that the cap number that these guys have to work with is $55 million. In 2010, these guys all took similar contracts to come together. Now, it seems as though James will make the most, and who could argue with that?
Interestingly enough, James has never been the highest paid player on his team. Ben Wallace and Larry Hughes made more money when he was with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Bosh makes the same as James currently.
The best option for these guys would all take reduced salaries so that they could bring in another big name. The most attractive player to fill the point guard role would be Kyle Lowry. He could give them what they have been missing in the lineup and that’s consistency.
With the Big Three opting out and Udonis Haslem declining his team option, the Heat only have one player on the roster, Norris Cole.
Apparently Cole is being shopped around so that the team can get some ancillary pieces to fill the gaps and add some depth. These players could get the max money possible at around $22 million. Unfortunately, this would put the team above the luxury tax, limiting their flexibility and not allowing them to fill out their roster.
The likeliest of scenarios is that they all take a little less money, but stagger the numbers over the duration of the contract. This will allow them to use exemptions that could total $7 million. That scenario would allow them to sign players like Trevor Ariza or Marvin Williams. It would put the dagger in the idea of bringing in Carmelo Anthony though.
It will be exciting to see how this plays out, but there are still a couple unanswered questions that loom:
Who’s going to play defense?
How do they manage their stars differently?
The Heat were exploited on defense in the 2014 NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs. James can guard every position on the floor, but not at the same time. Rookie Shabazz Napier is a very good on-ball defender, but we don’t know if he can translate that to the next level. One would think it would be no problem to carry that skill over, but you know what happens when we assume.
Whether they choose to take less or stagger the contracts, the must get the right players in place. They need guys who can defend and play multiple positions. I say that because with limited money, they need more versatile players instead of a bunch of players with only individual skills.
Aside from the money, these guys can’t continue to log major minutes throughout the year. James can handle the minutes now, but even the finest athletes are at risk for breaking down.
Wade is already there. He’s that old rusty truck that you drive around to the store and church. He’s been reliable, but you know he’s eventually going to breakdown beyond repair.
If their minutes aren’t monitored better, they may not position themselves adequately for the playoffs. With three of the best players in the league, it’s easy to think they can flip the switch when it’s playoff time. That’s a risky proposition for any team to ban on.
Heat fans should be happy because these guys are very close to making the commitment to stay in Miami. This financial choice is huge. It could be the difference in another title or falling short. If they don’t make the right choice, none of this will matter.