Less than 48 hours after bowing out in brutal fashion to the San Antonio Spurs, James, Bosh and head coach Erik Spoelstra reported for a whirlwind media session in Miami.
The purpose: to lend some insight, however preliminary, into Miami’s state of mind heading into what promises to be an eventful summer.
Most pressing of all, no doubt, is whether James, Wade and Bosh will choose to exercise their respective player options—perhaps even sign new contract extensions—and stay with the Heat.
LeBron: "I think there will be a conversation between the three of us. I'm not sure what Dwyane is thinking right now."— Joseph Goodman (@JoeGoodmanJr) June 17, 2014
It seems likely that Miami’s three cornerstones will either opt in together or opt out together, the latter ending with each seeking out his own “best fit.”
LeBron: "The decision comes down to me and my family at the end of the day. If my family is happy, I'm happy."— Joseph Goodman (@JoeGoodmanJr) June 17, 2014
That may sound like a classic cliche answer. But that doesn’t make it any less true or insightful.
As for LeBron’s state of mind—particularly as it compares to the media maelstrom of 2010—King James says that, this time around, his decision will be made with mind and heart at peace:
LeBron, on this potential free agency, "I feel far more at ease this time. 2010 was out of control. I'm definitely in a better place."— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) June 17, 2014
Of what he needs to hear from the team, LeBron, "I understand what this team, this franchise, brings to the table."— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) June 17, 2014
Bosh also fielded his fair share of questions:
Bosh: "Everything is a possibility. That's why they negotiate…but I want to be here. Outside of Dallas, this is my second home."— Joseph Goodman (@JoeGoodmanJr) June 17, 2014
Bosh on Big 3: "We like it here. We like to compete."— Joseph Goodman (@JoeGoodmanJr) June 17, 2014
One of the hot storylines heading into the summer will be whether the Big Three might be willing to sign a discounted extension in an effort to reel in more talent:
Bosh on recruiting others: "Miami sells itself, so you don't have to do much."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 17, 2014
Bosh: "I'm sure Riley has a finite plan moving forward. ... He'll plug 'em wherever something is needed."— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) June 17, 2014
Predictably, the two fielded their fair share of finals-related questions as well:
LeBron, on NBA Finals, "I've lost three of them, That's doesn't sit well with me at all."— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) June 17, 2014
Bosh again calls this "the toughest season I've ever had."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 17, 2014
The questions were a bit more varied—strategically and personnel-wise—for Spoelstra:
Spoelstra hasn't had exit interview w/Battier yet. "Something I'm not looking forward to. I feel humbled & honored I was able to coach him."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 17, 2014
Spoelstra is here referring to Greg Oden, the oft-injured 7'0" center who joined the Heat ahead of the 2013-14 season.
Spoelstra: "I loved having Greg around. I loved seeing him go through the process of putting himself back out there.... Incredible strides."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 17, 2014
Spoelstra was quick to defend Mario Chalmers, whose playoff struggles became a media focal point:
Spo on Chalmers, "I'm not examining that right now. And, again, there can be wild exaggeration... The narrative and storyline can change."— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) June 17, 2014
Spoelstra defends Chalmers also: "You're talking about a player who was a starter on 2 championship teams."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 17, 2014
Ditto Dwyane Wade:
Spo on Wade: "It's funny how the narrative gets changed in a matter of days." Says he still willing to go in foxhole w/ Wade.— Shandel Richardson (@ShandelRich) June 17, 2014
All of this was merely an opening salvo to the media frenzy that’s sure to unfurl in the coming days and weeks, of course.
And while it certainly behooved James and Bosh to remain as noncommittal as possible, you certainly get the feeling that their first priority—financially as well as competitively—is to return to the franchise that netted them a pair of championships.
Pat Riley, Miami’s president of basketball operations, has earned a reputation as a legendary closer. If he was able to work his magic on forming the Big Three in the first place, you’d better believe he’ll have a few tricks up his sleeve to keep them around.