As much as the Los Angeles Lakers have made headlines as a viable candidate to land LeBron James in the summer of 2014, Brain Windhorst of ESPN says we are missing a huge story.
According to Windhorst, the Miami Heat could have as much cap space next summer as the Lakers, and could add another… wait for it… super star to the Big Three.
“First, James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade all have opt-out clauses in their contracts. That represents a $61 million portion of the team’s salary cap for 2014-15. It is hard to predict what each player will do because much will depend on health, the success of the team and other variables. But all three very well could opt out to re-do their contracts to assure more guaranteed years.
All three are earning less than the maximum salary and it is possible they could seek raises. However, all three have already shown a willingness to work with the front office to structure their deals in a way that will allow more flexibility.
In addition, Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier, Ray Allen, James Jones and Rashard Lewis all are headed into the final year of their contracts. Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony and Chris Andersen all have player options. Norris Cole has a team option.
Even if Haslem, Anthony and Andersen bypass free agency next summer and the Heat, as expected, pick up Cole’s option, the team still could have in the neighborhood of $50 million to play with depending on what the Big Three decide.
The Miller amnesty release last week was unpopular with some players and many of the Heat’s fans. But it did more than save luxury-tax money, it also cleared extra cap space for the future. No matter how the Heat ultimately proceed, they will have an opportunity to revamp the roster following this season. If James decides to stay, he can be a drawing card for younger free agents as the Heat may look to replace some of their aging players.”
Even if other teams can offer a star player more money than the Heat, the other teams don’t have LeBron. We saw an all-star like Ray Allen take a pay cut to join the Heat and Wade, James and Bosh all currently play with less-than maxed-out deals. Players are willing to take a pay cut to play in Miami. But only if LeBron is in Miami.
So while the Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers could be hoping to land LeBron next summer, the Heat might be able to convince the current Big Three plus one to sign.
Who might that plus one be? Well, here is a list of the big-time free agents of 2014 (excluding the Heat’s).
Luol Deng (Chicago), Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas), Greg Monroe (Restricted – Detroit), Andrew Bogut (Golden State), Paul George (Restricted – Indiana), Kobe Bryant (LA Lakers), Pau Gasol (LA Lakers), Larry Sanders (Restricted – Milwaukee), Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks), Amar’e Stoudemire (New York Knicks) and John Wall (Restricted – Washington).
And a load of other B-level players.
The point that Windhorst seems to be making? Don’t count Pat Riley out of repeating 2010.