This week has been even crazier than usual in the lead-up to the 2014 NBA Draft. After LeBron James opted out on Monday and it reverberated around the league, affecting the top five picks, every upcoming free agent and Minnesota shopping Kevin Love. Surprising to some, LeBron made the move seemingly without Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh consultations.
The Heat’s entire triumvirate will need to opt out and re-sign with substantial cuts if they’re going to have the cap space necessary to go after some talent this summer. LeBron set the dominos in motion, but he didn’t meet with Wade and Bosh beforehand. That changed on Wednesday when sources told ESPN the tree met to discuss the future of the Heat. According to the Miami Herald, the famous trio met over a meal at a Miami eatery.
The Heat brass, meanwhile, is looking to move further up in the draft to snatch Shabazz Napier, LeBron’s pick for the 2014’s best incoming PG. The Heat have also been linked to Kyle Lowry (tough time to be ‘Rio), Shawn Marioon, Marvin Williams and Trevor Ariza. Riley’s even thinking about going after OKC’s much-maligned center, and resident KD fitness coach, Kendrick Perkins.
Regardless of where the Big 3 met, or even when, whatever they decide could change the balance of power in the East, or even the entire league. Every team with cap space — about half of the league has the necessary room at this point, or can make some minor moves to create that room — is preparing for their shot at the world’s best player.
James’ focus is on a title. He makes enough off the court he doesn’t need the max money to secure a lucrative future. If he wants to join Michael Jordan as a billionaire athlete or team owner after he retires, he’ll have to protect his legacy and his legend. The only way to achieve that sort of impact is to win more titles. Even if James becomes despised again after leaving Miami, he’ll be loved by whichever franchise lands him if he delivers like he has over the last four years for the Heat. There are extenuating circumstances, though, primarily the difference between ‘Bron and his two teammates.
Wade won’t be able to command a maximum contract after faltering in the NBA Finals. That poor performance came after sitting out 28 games during the regular season to remain fresh for just such a situation. Bosh, despite his ability to stretch the floor in their small ball lineup, always took a back seat to James and Wade. Sometimes he’d disappear for a stretch of games while the Heat got beat up in the paint and on the glass (hello San Antonio). Neither Wade or Bosh make LeBron money — or as Jay-Z would call it: mogul building — off the court at this point in their careers. This also might be their last long-term deal, so asking them to take a cut isn’t the same as a billionaire pissed they missed out on a coupon deal at C-Town.
Still, the three Heat ‘mates have survived countless battles together over a chaotic four years, a stretch where the majority of the basketball-watching public was actively rooting against them. There’s a certain trust between the three that will be hard for LeBron to duplicate elsewhere, even with a friend like ‘Melo.
What the three talked about will have lasting effects on the NBA. This summer is going to be a doozy, starting with this Miami situation.
What do Wade, Bosh and ‘Bron end up doing?
Follow Spencer on Twitter at @SpencerTyrel.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.