LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh are barely 48 hours removed from losing the NBA Finals. Their minds should be on decompressing after another long, arduous season as they spend time with their families. But there’s no time for teams to rest in today’s NBA, and the Miami Heat’s Big Three are this summer’s biggest free agency dominoes. Will they opt-in for another season in South Beach? Or become free agents, either choosing to re-negotiate with Miami or sign with another team? Only time will tell, but LeBron took to the podium today and addressed the situation in his season-ending exit interview.
LeBron was non-committal on his future throughout the session, insisting on multiple occasions that he’s yet to consider his future.
“I need to get away with my family before I even start to think about what happens next,” James said. “… I haven’t even began to have those conversations with my family, with my agent, or with my team or anybody at this point.”
As for what will matter to him most when he ultimately makes a decision, James answered with typical pragmatism.
“The decision comes down to me and my family at the end of the day,” he said. “That’s going to be the number one priority. If my family is happy then I’m happy, and I’m able to perform at a high level… I just want to win. That’s all that matters to me.”
LeBron obviously won’t make this choice alone, however. He’s notoriously close with Wade and counts Bosh among his circle of friends, too. Though each player will surely do what he deems best individually, James insisted that he’ll converse with his two star teammates throughout the process.
“There’s a conversation that will be had between the three of us,” he said. “I think it’s only right. We’ve earned that for each other, to have a conversation and see what could possibly happen. Obviously, I don’t know what Dwyane is thinking right now, I don’t know what Chris is thinking right now.”
Of additional interest is LeBron’s take on his role as a free agency recruiter. Rumors have circulated since last week that the Heat are looking to sign Carmelo Anthony after James, Wade, and Bosh opt-out of their contracts and take pay-cuts with Miami. While that scenario seems unlikely on the surface, it bears mentioning that the Heat’s Big Three took pay reductions in 2010 to add talent to the roster surrounding them. And earlier today, reports surfaced that James would be unwilling to take less money than he’s worth unless Miami improves its roster. Still, LeBron says he’s yet to look into the free agency pool and doesn’t think that falls under the umbrella of his responsibilities.
“I don’t even know who the unrestricted, restricted, ETO (early termination option) guys are. I haven’t even dug into that that,” James said. “And for me, I don’t even know if that’s my position. That’s what Riles (Pat Riley) is so great at, and obviously Spo (Erik Spoelstra) is going to get into it. Every team in the NBA continues to get better every year and we need to get better as well. We have some holes that need to be filled. Me getting around and talking to guys is not going to ultimately make it happen.”
James, Wade, and Bosh have until June 29th to decide whether or not to opt-out of their contracts. Not counting potential salaries of the Big Three, Miami will likely have just over six million dollars on its books heading into free agency: The guaranteed contract of Norris Cole and player-option of Udonis Haslem. Should James, Wade, and Bosh opt-out of their deals, the Heat will have approximately $57 million of flexibility under the cap come July. If that proves the case, it will be even more fascinating than usual to watch the free agency period unfold.
Where will LeBron be playing next season?
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