Updates from Sunday, June 29
Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press reported the latest on Chris Bosh and the decision to opt out of his contract:
AP Source: Chris Bosh told Heat this afternoon he is exercising his early termination option and will become a free agent. Link to come.— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) June 29, 2014
The Heat later confirmed the report via the team's Instagram account where Pat Riley issued a statement:
“Today we were notified of Chris’ intentions to opt-out of his contract. Chris is one of the most versatile and dynamic big men in this league, and he has been an instrumental key to our championship success over the last four seasons. We look forward to meeting with Chris and his agent in the coming days to discuss keeping him in Miami for many years to come."
Earlier, ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne reported on Chris Bosh's free-agency plans:
After agreeing to all opt out of their contracts together, Miami Heat stars LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade have been discussing financial terms of new contracts among each other, sources told ESPN.com. ...
... The talks between the three players is the strongest indication yet that James plans to re-sign with the Heat after he becomes a free agent on Tuesday. Unlike in 2010 when all three took nearly identical contracts, the discussions this time have included the possibility that James would draw the highest salary among the three, sources said.
James, 29, has never been the single highest-paid player on his team in his 11-year NBA career.
Under league rules, players are not allowed to negotiate new contracts with their teams until July 1. However, there is nothing preventing the players from working it out among themselves, and cutting up the Heat's upcoming record $55 million in available cap space is believed to have been a major part of the discussion when Wade, James and Bosh held a meeting last week in Miami.
Chris Bosh has reportedly decided to decline his player option for the 2014-15 season and will test the free-agent market.
ESPN's Brian Windhorst provided word of his choice:
Chris Bosh plans opt out of contract, source tells ESPN. Dwyane Wade & Udonis Haslem also out per reports. Heat have record 55M cap space— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) June 28, 2014
However, TNT's David Aldridge reports that Bosh hasn't decided quite yet:
Chris Bosh's agent says he has not yet decided whether to opt out. Bosh has same agent as Wade & Haslem, who have decided to opt out.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) June 28, 2014
Bosh watched his scoring and rebounding averages decline for the fourth straight season since joining the Heat. After his days as a double-double machine for the Toronto Raptors, he averaged just 16.2 points and 6.6 rebounds per game this past season.
What's the best option for Miami's Big Three?
Part of that decline is due to playing alongside LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, which diminished his offensive role. That said, his overall level of play has definitely dropped, and he was a virtual non-factor at times in the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs.
The question coming out of the Finals was what the future would hold for Miami. The entire "Big Three" held options in their contracts, leaving plenty of uncertainty after four straight Eastern Conference crowns and a pair of NBA titles.
After the Spurs finished off the series with relative ease, Bosh told The Associated Press, via ESPN.com, that the trio wanted to stay together.
"We want to stay together, man. I'll say that," Bosh said. "It's a great organization, great team and great city. And to have a chance, that's all you can ask for."
Given their overall success, that doesn't come as a surprise. They clearly needed more help elsewhere on the roster to continue their run of championships, though.
Rob Mahoney of Sports Illustrated explained the difference between the Big Three accepting their playing options and re-signing with new deals:
If they decline their ETOs [early termination options] to remain with the Heat, the trio would be set to make more than $20 million apiece next season. The first-year salary of a new deal, by comparison, could be as low as they're willing to take, with every dollar conceded going toward another potential roster move.
It was a complicated situation with not a long time to figure it all out after another extended playoff run. Not only did Bosh, James and Wade have to decide whether to stick together, but also the manner in which to do it.
Now the situation is starting to play out.
With Bosh opting out, the question marks will continue to mount surrounding the Heat. Is the trio preparing to re-sign at a lesser price to help finance at least one key addition, or are they going their separate ways? It shouldn't take much longer before an answer emerges.
If this does mark the end of the experiment in Miami, it's hard to call it anything other than a success. Bringing stars together to pursue a championship can work as long as everybody is willing to accept a role within the system.
More likely, Bosh's decision is the start of a bigger plan for the Heat.
Above all else, Bosh is still a productive player at age 30. His overall numbers will be dependent on the players around him and the role he's asked to take, but the ability is still there. He just didn't flash it as consistently last season as he did in the past.
Bosh has made his decision. It will be interesting to see how everything else plays out.