The Miami Heat have some retooling to do this offseason after losing to the San Antonio Spurs in the 2014 NBA Finals, and with pretty much nobody under contract at the start of the offseason, things could be much different in South Beach next season.
All three could technically find new homes (however unlikely that may be), and that would drastically change the landscape of the NBA. There's already stuff in the works, however, so Heat fans shouldn't start getting upset just yet.
Below, you'll find the latest rumors regarding the franchise.
The game's best player is on the open market, and that means there will likely be a bidding war for his services. Prior to 2010, he signed with the Heat without a max contract. That won't happen this time around, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com:
"Teams that contact James will be informed that he wants no less than the maximum salary number for next season, sources said. The max number for James is projected to be about $20.7 million."
There are certainly going to be many teams lining up to offer James a max deal. ESPN's Chris Broussard tweeted about two teams that might be in the mix:
Lakers' dream is to add LeBron & Melo this summer. If that fails would go for CBosh & Melo, sources say. That's assuming Bosh opts out— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) June 27, 2014
Rockets clearing cap room to make run at LeBron or Melo. With James Harden as potential sign&trade, they could land both to team w/Dwight— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) June 26, 2014
Obviously, there are others.
James could always go home to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but Miami is probably still the front-runner. They offer James the best chance to go back to the Finals. Even though Norris Cole is the only one under contract, Miami will still put a competitive roster on the court next season.
Many players from last season's team will return, and that will help lure LeBron back.
It will take a grand sales pitch from another organization to steal James from the Heat.
Dwyane Wade/Chris Bosh
Speaking of bringing talent back, the Heat may already be gearing up to bring back Wade and Bosh:
Heat telling free agents they will have $12+ million to spend, indicating Wade & Bosh ready to take huge pay cuts, sources told ESPN— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) July 1, 2014
Earlier, @johncanzanobft reported Wade was willing to start at $12M per season & Bosh $11M & this backs that up. Story coming.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) July 1, 2014
If those two take pay cuts, the team can sign James and still have money left over to make some moves. Guys like Shawn Marion and Vince Carter would be stellar fits, and they'll have the money to spend if they want to make it happen.
Wade's decision to opt out should have led us to believe that he'll be back for another run at the title. At this stage in his career, Wade isn't worth the money he was making. By opting out, he accepted the fact that he'll be making less money in order to have a chance at winning.
Miami needs all the help it can get. Wade can't be relied upon heavily anymore, so a trio of Bosh, James and Wade really isn't a Big Three any longer. It's still three talented stars, but Wade's knees are quickly diminishing his abilities on the hardwood.
I like the idea of bringing all three players back if Wade and Bosh take less money. The Heat need some flexibility to make moves.
Mario Chalmers and Cole were adequate last season. Chalmers will probably walk in free agency, and Cole could be dealt for cap space. That leaves Shabazz Napier as the only point guard on the roster, and it would create a need for another signing.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reports that Miami could be gearing up to make a run at Kyle Lowry:
Miami reached out to Kyle Lowry's agent Andy Miller tonight, and sides are planning to talk in the morning, source tells Yahoo.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 1, 2014
Lowry was a big reason for the Toronto Raptors' success last season, and he has established himself as one of the best point guards in the NBA due to his recent play. Of course, that means he's in line for a big contract.
Assuming Wade, Bosh and James return, it will be very hard to fit in Lowry's contract and sign more depth. Lowry himself might have to take less money than initially planned in order to play for Miami.
Throwing Lowry into the mix would be a great move for the Heat, as he is the perfect facilitator to distribute the ball between the three stars. I love this move if it can be made.
Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @KennyDeJohn_BR