Having been completely outplayed during the NBA Finals, the Miami Heat’s goal, like everyone else in the NBA, was to recover and get better. A recoup and re-tool, if you will, through acquiring some younger, better talent to support the key players.
But in order to do that, the three players due to make the most amount of money–LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade–were to opt out of their respective agreements to ensure Pat Riley optimum wiggle room in the open market.
They did just that and from then on, the Heat’s plan of attack should have been relatively straight forward:
Step One) Resign the Big Three to cheaper contracts.
Step Two) Use the cap space created to recruit a higher caliber supporting cast.
Step Three) Get back on track to winning three, four, five, six championships like they envisioned back in 2010.
Sounds simple enough, right?
Well, it was … until everyone started looking out for his own.
LeBron James has squished any preconceived notions that he would take some sort of pay cut to stay with the Heat. According to several reports, the King is not interested in anything other than a maximum contract, and rightly so.
He is the best player on the planet, therefore he should be paid like one.
Then again, you can’t really fault Miami for thinking he would be willing to take less money. Don’t forget the fact that LeBron is making an absolute fortune through his off-court ventures so he wouldn’t exactly be losing all that much.
Plus, he is the one who cares so dearly about his legacy; surely he’d be willing to sacrifice in order to improve upon it.
Chris Bosh has also looked to stake his claim after requesting a five-year, $90 million deal. Unlike James though, he doesn’t quite have the body of work to demand such a huge payday considering how inconsistent he is with his production.
Remember the terrible shooting during this year’s playoffs? Or the fact that he barely showed up for the NBA Finals?
Those are just two of several examples where he hasn’t come through for the Heat, so it is somewhat surprising he would ask for a big sum.
Perhaps Dwyane Wade too might follow suit.
Considering how much he has struggled to stay healthy, his next contract will likely be his last major one, so why not cash in while he still can?
During the regular season he was essentially a part-time player and missed nearly 30 games, primarily due to coach Erik Spoelstra fearing he was too brittle. Granted, in the playoffs it looked more like the Flash of yester-year, but all of a sudden he got old really fast as the NBA Finals progressed.
Perhaps it might be a stretch to say his career is very close to an end, but there’s no denying he is past his prime. Not because he’s all of a sudden lost his talent like Kevin Durant did, but more so because he has the knees of a 50-year-old NFL running back.
However, you do also have to look at it from the players’ perspective. They have worked hard to get to where they are right now so no one can blame them for wanting their just reward.
Besides, as businessmen, it really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to be giving up money — especially when management isn’t holding up their end of the deal.
Pat Riley (and the rest of the front office) deserve as much of the blame as the Big Three because he hasn’t yet delivered on his promise to be bring in better talent.
So far, the Miami Heat have pursued damned near every free agent in some way, shape or form, but none of the interest has actually come to bear fruit. So far, Riley hasn’t given the players much reason to be optimistic about a future with the Miami Heat, especially when it’s for a cut price and that is a deal breaker.
It was the only mandatory condition the players required when they each walked away from $40 million.
On the upside, at least Miami has a blank slate to start afresh should things go sideways.