(Photo Credit: www.bleacherreport.com)
Since I have last taken to Bringing The Heat, Miami has drafted Shabazz Napier, Udonis Haslem and Dwyane Wade have both opted out of their contracts, and Chris Bosh was reported to have done the same, later having his agent deny that fact. Although the Heat’s off-season may already appear to be busy, I imagine this is only the beginning.
Having opted out June 24, LeBron James is apparently seeking a maximum contract with Miami. Surprisingly, James has never been the highest-paid player on a team before. In 2010, James (along with Wade and Bosh) took a pay cut in order to allow the Big Three to play together, but it seems as though this time around, he is not willing to do the same. If given the contract he is after, James will make about $21 million next season. As of now, James is not scheduling any meetings with other teams and is letting his agent Rich Paul handle most, if not all, of the necessary conversations surrounding free agency.
The only teams who currently have the wiggle room to offer James what he wants are the Heat, the Dallas Mavericks, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Phoenix Suns, the Utah Jazz, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Orlando Magic.
After Haslem and Wade announced they were opting out, it was reported that the Heat have a record $55 million in cap space. As things stand currently, it seems as though the Big Three are right on track to re-signing with Miami and continuing to work towards their main goal: winning as many championships as possible. Although the fantasy of three-peating was cut short by the San Antonio Spurs, the dream to be the best of the best, is still very much alive.
So far, Kyle Lowry and Luol Deng are at the top of Miami’s free agent list. With much initial speculation of the Heat trying to land Carmelo Anthony, the buzz has since died down. Anthony is set to meet with the Chicago Bulls at some point today, followed by the Houston Rockets, the Mavericks and the Lakers. But with that said, many are still firm in their beliefs that he will re-sign with the New York Knicks. Along with Lowry and Deng however, are a handful of other available talents that Miami will certainly look into. Having been approached by the Heat last season, after he was let go by the Milwaukee Bucks, Caron Butler is once again on Pat Riley’s radar, joining Marcin Gortat and Trevor Ariza.
Free agency officially began at midnight, so obviously there is still a ways to go before anything is set in stone. As players take meetings and team front offices make decisions, deals will slowly fall into place, taking fans on the usual off-season emotional roller coaster ride. Day one and counting.