Apr 23, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem (left) runs up court next to forward LeBron James (right) against the Charlotte Bobcats in game two during the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

What's Next For the Miami Heat Now That Udonis Haslem Opted Out?

The expectations in South Beach are simple: Compete for championships. To keep doing so, the Miami Heat needed the Big Three to opt out of their current deals in order to facilitate quality free agent signings. It was also thought that Udonis Haslem, due $4.6 million next season, needed to opt out to relieve his cap hit.

Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick is reporting that Haslem will opt out of his final season in order to sign a long-term deal with the Miami Heat, and  is expected to negotiate a deal worth at least the amount he was due over multiple years in order to help the Heat create cap room.

Haslem has the same representation of Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade—who are also expected to opt out of their contracts—and Skolnick says that the three are working together.

For Riley to work on putting a better team around LeBron James, who was the first to exercise his early termination option.

Miami was working above the salary cap and near the luxury tax, so for them to make significant upgrades, they needed these players to opt and out and rework their contracts in order to create more immediate cap flexibility. By spreading Haslem’s money out over multiple years—and possibly doing the same with Wade—it gives Riley a chance to lure top free agents to Miami.

Potential targets include Kyle Lowry, Carmelo Anthony, Trevor Ariza, Luol Deng and Marcin Gortat. After being dominated by the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals, it was clear Miami needed to upgrade its talent. It appears the plan is set in motion.

Perfect scenario:

  • Wade, Bosh and James all opt out and resign for $14-16 million per season.
  • Riley lands Lowry, who will take the pressure of facilitating the offense off James and Wade.
  • The roster is filled out with wing players who can spread the floor like Marvin Williams, Anthony Tolliver, Anthony Morrow and others.
  • Riley finds a center, possibly Emeka Okafor, Jordan Hill or Greg Stiemsma, to give the Heat size in the middle.
  • Miami wins the 2014-15 NBA Finals.

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