Miami Heat President Pat Riley saw fit to hold a press conference yesterday to discuss the status of his franchise. Riley proclaimed that he was “pissed” and seemingly challenged his players to man up concerning their impending free agency.
"This stuff is hard,” Riley said. “And you got to stay together, if you've got the guts. And you don't find the first door and run out of it."
Miami’s big 3 of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh are eligible to opt out of their contracts and speculation is rampant that Heat kingpin LeBron James will leave South Beach for a better opportunity.
I don’t believe that LeBron will leave the Heat for a better opportunity – there aren’t many better opportunities. The Heat have won four straight Eastern Conference titles and two of the last four NBA championships. I’m not sure a better team exists.
Miami’s real problem is that they’re strapped for cash under the new collective bargaining agreement. James, Wade, and Bosh make a combined $62 million while the salary cap is set at $63.2 million.
So now what?
Miami is going into the offseason with just six players under contract, and five of them have the option to opt out, excluding Norris Cole. According to AllUCanHeat.com if Miami’s big 3 along with Chris Anderson and Udonis Haslem opt in it leaves the team with the $3.28 million taxpayer mid-level exception and the veteran minimum of $1.4 million. The Heat would have to fill six roster spots with less than five million dollars.
Something’s got to give.
I believe Pat Riley’s press conference was a preemptive strike to muscle Miami’s big 3 into taking less money. Riley will have to convince them to renegotiate all off their contracts so the team can fill out its roster. It’s a noble idea, but each player is owed about $42 million dollars over the next two seasons. Would you give up that kind of money? Riley has planted the seed in the minds of fans and the media already that being a "team" is more important than being paid. If one of the big 3 chooses to opt-in without restructuring their contracts they'll be viewed as your typical greedy athletes, which is bogus because they all took less money to play for the Heat.
LeBron James can recoup that money anywhere in the league, he’s the king. Chris Bosh can also sign a nice deal somewhere else, but Wade is nearly done. Knee issues continue to plague the 32-year old All-Star and he will never get another pro contract that pays him $42 million.
If one Heat player restructures their deal, all three have to – it’s only right. But if I’m D Wade I don’t do it. It’s too much money to give up just for a chance to win. He’s won three times; his focus should be making as much money as he can, while he can.
"Dwyane is a champion, a Miami Heat for life," Riley said.
The Heat organization is loyal and Wade will most likely have a job for life for all that he’s done for the organization, but things could go sour in South Beach if Wade refuses to retool his contract.
"I didn't come down here 19 years ago for a quick trip to South Beach and a sun tan,” Riley said. “I don't think they did either."
"The important thing is we want all three to come back. Whatever it takes to keep them together, we are ready for."
Good luck, Pat.