Miami Heat mastermind Pat Riley just might be on the verge of adding another superstar to his Big Three.
According to ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein:
Sources told ESPN.com that Heat officials and the team's leading players have already started to explore their options for creating sufficient financial flexibility to make an ambitious run at adding New York Knicks scoring machine Carmelo Anthony this summer in free agency.
Yep, that Carmelo Anthony—the one who averaged 27.4 points and 8.1 rebounds this season.
The ESPN rumor is consistent with what USA Today's Sam Amick first reported on the subject. Amick explained the financial implications as well, writing:
A Big Four with the Heat (James, Wade, Bosh and Anthony) is possible, but it would require significant pay cuts from all involved. The Heat have about $8 million in payroll for next season if James, Wade and Bosh all opt out. It comes in handy that the salary cap is expected to increase by about $5 million next season to $63.2 million, while the luxury tax threshold is expected to be $77 million.
Writing for ESPNNewYork.com, Stephen A. Smith reported, "Melo wants to play with LeBron James. And, from what I'm being told, LeBron James wants to play with Melo. Assuming circumstances are ideal for them to do so."
Before any superstar-combining scenario comes to fruition, Anthony must first make a decision about his future with the Knicks. Per Stein:
Anthony has until June 23, essentially one week before the start of free agency, to notify the New York Knicks if he plans to opt in or out of the final year of his current contract, according to sources familiar with the terms of his deal.
Should Anthony opt out, the next question would be whether he's willing to take the requisite pay cut to join James and Co. in Miami.
Anthony has said that he wants to return to the Knicks, but he also wants to win, per Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:
Carmelo: "I want to come back...I also want to win."— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) April 17, 2014
It's hard to fully grasp the impact Anthony would have on the Heat. Though his production would almost certainly be curtailed playing alongside so much talent, the team's offense would still be elevated to another level altogether.
The franchise would also reach new heights as a cultural phenomenon. It's hard to even wrap one's head around that much star power being consolidated on the same team.
Such a move would undoubtedly spur 29 other owners to think about the league's competitive balance and whether there should be ways to prevent such a remarkable concentration of talent. If the salary cap and luxury tax can't prevent it, perhaps there will be dialogue on new mechanisms designed to restore league-wide parity.
The Heat would, however, remain perfectly happy with the status quo.