Report: LeBron Wants Max Contract, Teammates Willing To Take Less

Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Udonis Haslem have followed the lead of LeBron James by opting out of their contracts for next season with the Miami Heat. Now comes the next step for Pat Riley and company: Negotiating new, presumably discounted salaries for Miami’s quartet of free agents. And though James had previously indicated he’d be willing to take a pay-cut to improve the Heat’s roster, the latest report is that he’s seeking the maximum contract allowable from the Heat.

The news is courtesy of Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski. Of greatest note is that Wade and Bosh are planning to sign deals worth less than they could get on the open market so that LeBron will be able to receive his full worth in salary.

In an effort to make a future work together with LeBron James, the Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem will opt out of their contracts and become free agents, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

While Bosh, Wade and Haslem could ultimately take less money with the early termination outs in their deals, James, the NBA’s four-time MVP, is seeking a full maximum contract extension – or something close to it – to stay with Miami, sources told Yahoo Sports…

James’ teammates want to work with Miami president Pat Riley on re-signing with the team at lower financial figures that would allow management to retool with the roster with upgraded talent. Because of James’ value as the best player in the NBA, the Heat players understand James’ desire to seek maximum contract value, sources said.

It comes as mildly surprising that James is intent on a maximum five-year, $130 contract while Wade and Bosh are open to taking less than their value. LeBron is the best player in the world, of course, and everything in Miami revolves around his once-in-a-generation talents. Still, one assumed that individual stances by the Big Three on salaries would be aligned if they ultimately decided to stick together.

Instead, it appears James will exercise his power as the Heat’s axiom of on- and off- court success to ensure he’s paid his due. And while he’s obviously entitled to that position, he’s fortunate that Wade and Bosh are so understanding of it. The latter could likely receive a similar deal to LeBron’s as a free agent, while Wade could surely prod Miami into more money than his level of play merits by invoking his status as an organizational icon. But they’re clearly putting the best interests of the team before their own, and are to be commended for such unselfish action.

Wojnarowski’s report includes the caveat that James could actually test the free agency waters if he doesn’t like the direction the Heat’s roster is trending.

James’ priority remains to find a way to make a future work with Miami, but a failure by the organization toward improving the Heat’s roster to his satisfaction could send him aggressively into free agency, sources said.

We’ve known that for awhile. The decisions by Wade, Bosh, and even Haslem to opt-out and re-negotiate their contracts should provide Riley ample opportunity to placate James. In fact, he already took a step towards doing so by acquiring Shabazz Napier on draft-night.

Free agency officially opens on Tuesday, July 1st. While it seems that things are going swimmingly for the Heat so far, their situation could certainly change once pitches and negotiations officially begin.

Would you take a discount if you were LeBron?

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