No sooner does a report raise the tantalizing possibility of Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James teaming up on the Los Angeles Lakers than another report surfaces linking Anthony to James — in Miami.
Discussions are underway within the Heat organization about clearing the financial space to sign the New York Knicks star, who can choose to become a free agent and spring the Summer of Carmelo into full bloom. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein, who reported the story, write that it would require a lot of paperwork, cipherin’ and open-mindedness:
The mere concept would require the star trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to all opt out of their current contracts by the end of the month and likely take further salary reductions in new deals that start next season to give Miami the ability to offer Anthony a representative first-year salary. The Heat also are prevented from making any formal contact with Anthony until July 1 and can do so then only if he opts out of the final year of his current contract. Anthony has until June 23 to notify the Knicks of his intentions, according to sources.
But the success of the Heat’s 2010 free-agent bonanza has established them as the NBA’s undisputed destination franchise, with owner Micky Arison empowering big-thinking team president Pat Riley to attempt to pull off another coup in the market despite new collective bargaining agreement rules aimed at preventing it.
Sources say internal conversations within the Heat organization about pursuing this course have run concurrently with Miami’s bid to win a third consecutive championship, with sources adding that James in particular is likely to try to recoup potential salary sacrificed through fresh off-court business opportunities if the Heat’s new dream scenario does come to fruition.
James, who is shouldering a heavy load in the NBA Finals right now, can afford to be flexible with his Heat salary in order to sign his good friend, Anthony. King James is finalizing what ESPN say is believed to be the biggest equity cash payout ever for a pro athlete, earning a profit of more than $30 million in cash and stock as part of Apple’s $3 billion purchase of Beats. It might be a more complex decision for the team’s other millionaires. The Heat will have to convince Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem and Chris “Birdman” Andersen to take pay cuts that ESPN says would amount to tens of millions over the next few years.
James also can ponder 2015 free agency this summer, not that he’s thinking about that now. “I don’t know how I’ll prioritize it this summer or in the future,” said James (via SunSentinel.com). “That is the last thing I’m thinking about right now, not prioritize me going into the future.”
It seems unlikely that the Big Three could morph into the Fabulous Four, but maybe this summer will yield “The Decision II” — and will star Anthony and James.