LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh officially become free agents tomorrow but the decision by them to opt out of their contracts with the Miami Heat should come as no surprise.
While the trio will now all be free agents on the open market, it signifies a likely return to South Beach for next season.
When James exercised his early termination option last week, the move initially caused dread among Heat supporters and excitement for those following the league that the best player in the game could potentially be on the move for the second time in four years.
However, now that Wade and Bosh have joined James, the consensus is that Miami’s core won’t splinter, but rather re-sign in a fashion that allows the franchise enough cap space to add talent and improve the roster.
From tomorrow, the trio can then start negotiating their new contracts with teams under league rules.
In the meantime, James, Wade and Bosh aren’t prohibited from meeting amongst themselves and charting their course prior to the start of the free agency period on July 1.
It’s possible that James could receive a max contract, or at least be the highest paid player on Miami with his new deal.
In 2010, when he signed along with Wade and Bosh, the three took similar salaries, but the Heat have had James’ services for a discount considering his status as the best player in the NBA.
It’s expected that Wade and Bosh will take some sort of pay cut to compensate so that Miami have enough flexibility to bring in players.
Wade’s decision is particularly significant because he’s leaving two years and nearly $42 million (Dh154 million) on the table and likely to earn considerably less annually after his play declined the past two seasons.
Udonis Haslem also declined his player option for next season, which would have paid him $4.6m (Dh16.89 million), giving the Heat even more options on how to spend.
Once the opt outs become official, Miami will have a record $55m (Dh202 million) in cap space.
Depending on how James, Wade and Bosh spread out their salaries, the Heat could be left with enough room to bring on big-name free agents Carmelo Anthony or Kyle Lowry, or add multiple role players.
Miami already started their indirect pitch to James when they acquired point guard Shabazz Napier in the NBA Draft. James is a fan of Napier and tweeted that the Connecticut product was his “favourite player in the draft” during the NCAA Tournament.
Much is left to be determined and there is still uncertainty as to how the offseason will play out. For now though, it seems as if the Heat are in position to retain their ‘Big Three’.
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