One week after opting out of his contract with the Miami Heat, LeBron James has been joined by Dwyane Wade and they reportedly will be joined by Chris Bosh.
As they have in the past, the Miami Heat’s Big Three have been discussing financial terms of reworked contracts that would allow the Heat to keep them and bring in a badly needed infusion of fresh, young talent.
Other teams, like the Phoenix Suns, will get to work, too, when midnight arrives and teams can begin to talk to players. The Suns, Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports, plan to aggressively pursue James, with the promise of landing Carmelo Anthony, too. They’ve been licking their chops and preparing for this since April, AZCentral.com reports.
Still, as everyone has noted, it seems unlikely that James ends up anywhere but Miami. Indeed, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst points out that James hasn’t been scheduling any serious talks.
In recent days, teams that have hoped to schedule pitch meetings with James once the free-agency period begins [this] week have been unable to do so, sources told ESPN.com.
When James was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in 2010, he set up meetings with six teams in the days leading up to July 1.
On Sunday morning, Windhorst reported that the Big Three had met to try to work something out, just as they have done for years. From Windhorst:
Under league rules, players are not allowed to negotiate new contracts with their teams until July 1. However, there is nothing preventing the players from working it out among themselves, and cutting up the Heat’s upcoming record $55 million in available cap space is believed to have been a major part of the discussion when Wade, James and Bosh held a meeting last week in Miami.
The trio of Heat stars working collectively have three general options on how to put together their deals that could affect how aggressive the team will be going after other free agents. The Heat’s front office, led by president Pat Riley and general manager Andy Elisburg, will consult but have different plans for all three contingencies, sources said.
James, Bosh and Wade could all re-sign and take raises to the maximum salary starting at $22 million each, which would carry the Heat into the luxury tax and significantly limit their spending options this season and in the following seasons.
They could all take significant pay cuts, perhaps in excess of $5 million per year each, that would take the Heat below the salary cap and leave enough room to chase a major free agent like point guard Kyle Lowry. Though the Heat may ultimately investigate the possibility of Carmelo Anthony, that option has not been seriously discussed among the parties yet, sources said.
The last option is that the Heat stars could all take moderate pay cuts and stagger their salaries at different levels. This would likely not leave significant cap space but it would take the Heat below the luxury tax line and enable them up to use the full mid-level exception of $5.3 million and the biannual exception of $2 million to bring in multiple role players.