LeBron James has opted out, and he's apparently seeking a max contract, as reported by ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst.
Dwyane Wade has opted out. Chris Bosh has opted out. Udonis Haslem has opted out.
Windhorst also reveals that the $55 million the Miami Heat have to spend this offseason is the all-time record, though they'll be trying to use it on the players who declined to pick up their options.
In fact, the dream isn't just to bring back the Big Three and try to make the NBA Finals for the fifth season in a row; it's to ink LeBron, Wade and Bosh to smaller deals so that they can bring in another prominent figure. Someone like Kyle Lowry, Luol Deng, Trevor Ariza or—yes—Carmelo Anthony.
However, that's going to be rather unlikely if LeBron really is set on making as much money as he can. Even after adding Shabazz Napier in the draft, the supporting cast won't be as strong if he's making more than $20 million in 2014-15.
Nonetheless, Windhorst is reporting that the Heat are telling free agents they'll have $12 million remaining after signing the Big Three, which is enough to add one of those other prominent players.
It would help if LeBron wanted even less, but the Heat have to acquiesce to his wishes. If that's what he wants, that's what he'll be offered, and Pat Riley will have to work magic when adding quality pieces to a bench that often let down the starters this past run at a title.
Miami could very well end up right where it began—in the pole position for the championship chase. But everyone could also leave as well, although Heat nation doesn't want to admit it.
For now, returns seem likely. "Likely" just isn't the same as "guaranteed."