MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat ascended to first place in the Eastern Conference Tuesday while pursuing the ever-elusive three-peat. But the question in the back of the minds of many Heat fans is what happens when the current season ends.
Heat superstar Dwyane Wade said Tuesday that no decision has been made by Miami’s Big Three of himself, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh about what to do this summer.
All three players can opt-out of their current contracts with the Heat this year, in 2015, and in 2016. Of the three, James could be the most likely to opt-out because he could command the most money in a new contract.
When the Big Three came together in Miami in 2010, they met before free agency to discuss their plans. Wade told ESPN the Magazine Tuesday that no decision has been made, but the three plan to have a conversation soon.
“I’m really focused on just enjoying this team, enjoying our quest to try to ‘Three-peat,’ Wade told ESPN. “And when the season is over, and whatever happens, then I will sit down and I will sit down with Chris and I will sit down with Bron and I will sit down and make the best decision for myself and my family.”
Each of the three took less money to sign with Miami in 2010, but the NBA has undergone a radical change since then that could force more cuts if the Big Three want to stay together in Miami.
With the luxury tax turning punitive for repeat offenders, clubs like Miami that don’t have the rich media contracts like the Los Angeles Lakers have, will have to manage the salary cap very carefully.
James can easily command a contract worth more than $20 million per season and Bosh’s improved play this year in Wade’s absence can also likely command more than his current contract is worth. Wade is due close to $42 million over the next two seasons, even as his physical health betrays him.
Miami has options on how to deal with the salary cap/luxury tax such as re-signing LeBron, re-signing Wade to a longer contract, but at a much team-friendlier cap number, as Tim Duncan did last year, lowing his cap number to $10 million.
But, if Miami ties up around $60 million in three players, it’s going to make adding anything around the Big Three next to impossible.
For his part, Bosh said last week that all three would be back with the team next season, but Wade said things are not decided and all three still have to talk.
If Miami wins another championship, or at least makes it to the NBA Finals again this season, all three are likely to be back. But, if Miami stumbles between now and June and doesn’t make it past the Eastern Conference playoffs, anything is possible on June 30, the opt-out deadline.