Maybe the Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Cavaliers are right after all. According to a report by ESPN’s Chris Broussard, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are unsure if LeBron James intends to return to the Miami Heat.
Broussard’s expertly reported and exhaustive story casts doubt on the long-held assumption that LeBron will ultimately re-sign with the Heat. Multiple sources told Broussard that while that remains the most likely outcome, James is considering all of his options.
When the Miami Heat’s “Big 3” went their separate ways after a lunch meeting last Wednesday, they went not knowing whether they had played their last game together, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
While Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were committed to returning to the Heat, LeBron James was unsure of what he would do, the sources said.
The only certainty coming out of the meeting concerning James was that he wanted a maximum-level salary.
This information clashes with a previous report that the Big Three have their contracts “set” and will allow Pat Riley to pursue other free agents with the cap space Miami will have left over after re-signing James, Wade, and Bosh. Though news that LeBron is intent on receiving a maximum salary surfaced last week, it was only yesterday that Riley was supposedly telling players on the market that the Heat would have $12 million to spend in free agency because Wade and Bosh were prepared to sign contracts worth $11 million and $12 million annually.
Broussard’s story confirms the strong denial of that intel by Wade and Bosh’s agent, Henry Thomas. Though each player is comfortable taking less money from Miami than they could command to ensure James sticks around, those initial numbers were grossly exaggerated and make it unlikely the Heat could afford the big-name free agents they’re chasing, Broussard says.
The decisions of Bosh and Wade to opt out of the final two years and $42 million of their contracts were sparked by their desire to add better players in an effort to entice James to stay in Miami, one source said.
While both players expect to sign larger contracts overall, each is willing to take less money annually.
Bosh is looking to sign a five-year deal worth between $80 million and $90 million while Wade is thinking along the lines of $55 million-60 million over four years, sources said.
Those figures, combined with a max-level contract that would begin at $20.7 million for James, would not clear the cap room it would likely take to sign free-agent targets such as Kyle Lowry, Luol Deng and possibly Pau Gasol.
Of absolutely crucial note here is that a source told Broussard that “another season or two for [James] in Miami is a safe bet.” This could all be moot in the long-run as LeBron re-signs with the Heat.
But we may have been misreading all of the signs that seemingly made that outcome inevitable. If Wade and Bosh truly don’t know his plans, it’s fair to assume that James doesn’t have a firm grasp on his future either.
That teams were reportedly “moving on” from the LeBron sweepstakes? Big mistake. If Broussard’s report is to be believed, the King is firmly in play after all.
Does this mean LeBron will leave Miami?
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