LeBron James Unwilling To Take Less Unless Heat Roster Improves

With the 2014 NBA season finished, all eyes have turned to LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade to see what the former champs will do with early termination options in the next two weeks. They have until June 29 to decide on opting out, but reports have LeBron unwilling to take less unless Miami’s roster is significantly improved.

If they do opt out, it would likely be to re-sign in Miami at a reduced rate, a tactic that would have to be used if those rumors of adding Carmelo Anthony were true. But James isn’t likely to pass up more than $42 million over the next two years just to save owner Micky Arison from paying luxury taxes. If James, Bosh and Wade opt out — something many believe they’ll either do, or not do, together — to re-sign at a smaller rate, they would need to see talent added to a team that was destroyed in the NBA Finals this year.

Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News reports:

As team insiders have maintained for months, James isn’t interested in reducing his salary from $20.6 next season and $22.1 million in 2015-16 just so that team owner Micky Arison can avoid paying luxury taxes. As they say, been there, done that and all it got James was second place.

Bosh, who makes identical money to James, and Wade, who makes slightly less, at around $41.5 million for the next two seasons, also don’t want to rework their deals solely to give Arison another tax break. They want the money put to good use, meaning adding talent so that Miami can return to the Finals for a fifth straight season. No team has done that since the Red Auerbach-led Celtics of the 1960s.

The Big Three would possibly do what Duncan has done for years so that Pat Riley has the means to bring in a young, athletic wing, along with other new parts. There will be talk about taking pay cuts to fit Carmelo Anthony in, but that is seen as far-fetched.

The Heat and James might use the Spurs as an example. Duncan has taken multiple pay cuts to see the Spurs stay competitive even as he turned 38 in April. Now he’s got his fifth title, and they’re looking to add another next year. None of that would have been possible if Tim was making the max over the years.

James played well in the Finals, but the lack of a bench against San Antonio’s deep rotation, proved to be too much for the defending champions to overcome. Part of that was the loss of Mike Miller in the offseason and the signings of Greg Oden and Michael Beasley on the cheap in the offseason, hoping they would play a role in a 3-peat. The loss of Miller and the cheap acquisitions as a stopgap stems from owner Micky Arison’s orders, it appears; the Heat shed salary to avoid the luxury tax:

In addition, the Heat bench proved far too thin to secure the three-peat. But it became that way because Riley was under orders from the top to make moves to save Arison from taking a $15 million luxury tax hit. So when the Heat allowed Mike Miller to leave after last season, that was costly, especially with Wade’s gimpy knees and sudden decline.

Neither Oden or Beasley played significant minutes in the playoffs, and even with a rested Wade, the Heat simply didn’t have the weapons needed to stem the tide of a deep and well-coached Spurs group.

Now it’s on the Heat, President Pat Riley and perhaps most important, owner Micky Arison, to retool if the Heat triumvirate — notably James — is going to accept a reduced salary.


What do the Heat do this summer?

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