Haters, beware. It doesn’t look like the Big Three of the Miami Heat is going anywhere any time soon. And if Pat Riley and the Heat have their way, getting back LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh could just be the beginning.
Agent Henry Thomas, who represents Wade, Bosh and Haslem, told ESPN Saturday that Wade and Haslem would follow LeBron James’ lead and opt out of their current contracts, making them free agency this summer. Bosh has yet to officially inform Miami of his decision, but ESPN’s Chris Broussard is reporting he will also be opting out.
Wade still had two years and $41.8 million on his contract, Bosh had two years and $42.6 million left and Haslem will not be exercising a player option worth $4.6 million. With the Big Three and Haslem all opting out, the Heat will have an NBA record $55 million of salary cap room to work with this summer.
LeBron and Bosh opting out shouldn’t come as a surprise, but Wade doing the same is a bit of an eyebrow-raiser. Considering the way Wade’s correspondingly deteriorated with his ailing game last season, especially in the NBA Finals, it’s safe to say Wade’s new contract with the Heat will be for substantially less than the $20 million he was owed next season. Wade will likely make it up in the long run, but he’ll never command a contract quite as big as that again and that’s a lot of money to leave on the table.
No matter what he re-signs for, Dwyane Wade made an incredible gesture opting out of $42 million guaranteed. Meanwhile, Kobe…
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) June 28, 2014
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, LeBron will be seeking a max contract and is eligible for a five-year, $130 million extension. If that report is true, LeBron’s new max deal could potentially hurt the Heat in their quest to upgrade a roster that needs a few tweaks to be NBA title favorites again.
Before now, Miami’s seemed like the safe bet for LeBron’s free agency destination. With the news that Wade, Bosh and Haslem will do the same, it’s all but guaranteed that the Heat’s Big Three will be restructuring their contracts this summer in order to make enough space for another star like Carmelo Anthony or Kyle Lowry. By putting their fans through a temporary scare by staying on the same page and opting out, the Heat’s next super team no longer seems like a “pipe dream” as Pat Riley called it before.
There’s a minuscule possibility all three of Miami’s stars are ready for new things. On Thursday, Ric Bucher tweeted that the Heat were going to try and trade with the Toronto Raptors for Kyle Lowry and that Bosh would opt out and return to Toronto as a free agent. LeBron might not be sold on Wade’s durability or his ability to further his legacy with more championships in Miami. It’s hard to argue joining the Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets or Los Angeles Clippers wouldn’t make his new team title favorites.
But LeBron is also cognizant of his off-the-court legacy. Even if LeBron left Miami for his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers, he’d be scrutinized no matter where he went for once again leaving an organization he’s had sustained success with, except this time it’d be magnified by ten since the Heat have been to the Finals four straight times. At some point, Riley’s message about loyalty, not to mention Miami’s willingness to trade up for LeBron’s favorite player in the draft Shabazz Napier, has to sink in.
With Wade, Bosh and Haslem all opting out, it’s pretty clear that time is now. The Big Three are perfectly aware they didn’t have enough last season to beat a better San Antonio Spurs team and these are the necessary steps to retool the roster. LeBron haters and those who don’t like the new super team trend that’s starting to dominate the NBA had better buckle up. It’s going to be a long summer and 2014-15 season.