Even when the Miami Heat lose in the NBA Finals, the team is still the talk of the offseason. Step aside Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love, because the moment LeBron James opted out of his contract with the Heat, he became the most important superstar available on the open market.
No one knows for sure whether LeBron has eyes for another team and city, but the mere possibility has teams scrambling to clear cap space for the King—the Heat included.
That cap room is not being cleared just to pay James something close to what he's worth; it's also being created in order to surround James with the talent necessary to add to his ring count wherever he signs.
Miami got to four straight NBA Finals by being greedy. The team had the gall to go after not one, not two, but three superstars during the summer of 2010. In order to remain a powerhouse as well as the team that benefits from James' presence, the Heat are going to have to be audacious again.
Those on the roster have already done their part.
Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem have all opted out of their contracts in order to clear up a plethora of cap space that would allow them to bring James back and also allow them to go after the best talent available. That plan may not include every member of the Big Three, though, as even the most beloved player in the franchise's history isn't a lock to return.
Take a look at what Alan Hahn of ESPN New York tweeted:
Should be noted that @Chris_Broussard on my show today said there is a chance Riley/Heat walk away from Wade and go after Melo.— Alan Hahn (@alanhahn) June 28, 2014
Whoa, that's a really big deal. Would Pat Riley really walk away from the man some view as the architect of the Big Three? If it means retaining James and getting a younger and more dynamic superstar like Carmelo Anthony, then the answer is yes.
Riley released this statement on the Heat's website after Wade and Haslem's sacrificial move:
Today we were notified of Dwyane’s intention to opt-out of his contract and Udonis’ intention to not opt into his contract, making both players free agents. Dwyane has been the cornerstone of our organization for over a decade, and we hope he remains a part of the Heat family for life.
Udonis has been the heartbeat of this team for 11 years. He has sacrificed countless times to make this organization successful, and he is the epitome of what this organization stands for. We look forward to meeting with Dwyane and Udonis and their agent in the coming days to discuss our future together.
Dropping the two faces of the franchise for over a decade would be a tough sell to sentimental fans. Still, it would be a shrewd move from a pure basketball standpoint.
Hey, LeBron, Can We Talk?
According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, no team has been able to schedule a meeting with James as of yet:
Teams hoping to schedule free agent meetings with LeBron James next week have not been able to as yet, sources told ESPN— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) June 28, 2014
It would appear that LeBron is going to give the Heat every opportunity to make their intentions known to him before he even entertains the thought of jumping ship.
James has earned the right to have this free-agency period conducted on his terms. If and when he does listen to pitches from teams outside of South Beach, only a handful of them will likely be given the time of day.
LeBron's Old Team
The Cleveland Cavaliers are likely still holding out some hope that LeBron will come back to them. With Kyrie Irving and this year's No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins, the Cavs have an exciting young roster.
Per Probballdraft, restricted free agent Chandler Parsons might be on the team's wish list as well:
Keep hearing the Cavs are going to pursue Chandler Parsons. Rockets have declined his option making him a RFA.— Probasketballdraft (@Probballdraft) June 28, 2014
Chances are, Parsons would be more of a consolation prize, but he certainly fits with the team. His ability to defend, finish at the rim and shoot the three makes him a perfect fit at small forward for a team that already features Irving and Wiggins.