The biggest question in this NBA free agency is whether the Big Three – LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, are carrying on together or each going to their separate ways. The confidence from the Miami Heat about keeping everything together isn’t high as it was when the trio opted out of their deals, seemingly to stick together but for less money.
Things have changed. Sources suggest the trio left the meeting they had without a clear plan together. James told them he plans on asking for a max contract, while he didn’t tell Wade or Bosh to opt out. Or at least that’s what we’re getting from their “leaks.” Maybe this is all one giant smokescreen before we get the same result we had in 2010: An announcement that everyone is staying together.
Another source suggests that Bosh is trying to get a deal worth around $18 million a season from the Miami Heat (five years, $90 million), while the Heat are trying to drop him a little bit lower. One interesting change in the master plan of adding free agents to help out the James-Wade-Bosh trio: Kyle Lowry has re-signed with the Toronto Raptors, taking one of the most coveted free agents off the board, especially in a position the Heat needed help with.
James, while initially focused on seeing how things go with the Heat, has started entertaining ideas of playing somewhere else. Few teams can offer him that max deal he wants. The Phoenix Suns are one example. They can even add another max deal along with him, but it’s unlikely that James is thinking in that direction. The Los Angeles Lakers, with that fantasy dream of putting Kobe Bryant together with James and Carmelo Anthony, would be a likelier destination.
Unlike Anthony, James isn’t taking meetings and pitches from teams. His agent is getting calls, and that’s about it. It’s hard to say what changed over the last week that made James suddenly love the idea of taking max money. I mean, it’s obvious what the pluses are, but it seems so different to what we’ve come to expect from James. I wonder where the decision came from, and what has been the part of the NBPA in it.
James not choosing the Heat might not deter Bosh and Wade from staying. If James doesn’t stay, there will be more money to re-sign Chris Bosh with. Wade has been a Miami Heat player since day 1 of his NBA career. Players like Luol Deng and Pau Gasol are available to sign. Someone like Spencer Hawes is a free agent. James leaving isn’t the end of the world. It’s just a blow that’s hard to recover from.