Miami Heat 2014 NBA Free-Agency Primer: What You Need to Know
With Miami possessing a league-record $55 million in cap space this summer, just about every possible scenario for what this team will look like next season is being discussed.
We're going to break down all of that chatter, taking a look at who's staying, who's leaving and who's joining the Miami Heat this offseason.
The Big 3 (and Udonis Haslem) Are Almost Certainly Staying in Miami
The Big Three, along with Udonis Haslem, opted out of the contracts they signed with the team in 2010—prior to the June 30 deadline—which was the first indication the four are working in concert.
It's highly unlikely that Haslem and Wade, whose previous contracts would have paid them far better than their current market value suggests they'll get this offseason, would have opted out without a belief that the others, specifically LeBron, are planning a return.
Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Monday that the four players have "the framework of deals in place to remain with Miami" and are simply waiting to see what else Pat Riley and his staff can do in free agency before fully committing to return.
Additional clues of a Big Three return: LeBron won't be present at free-agent pitch meetings, Bosh is out of the country and he, along with Wade, have no reported meetings set up. Those don't sound like the actions of players planning to head elsewhere.
LeBron Is Not Willing to Take a Pay Cut, the Others Are
LeBron is the NBA's best player and finally wants to be paid for it. After never once being the highest paid player during his first 11 years in the league, James is reportedly seeking a maximum contract.
While LeBron won't take a discount to play with the Heat like he did in 2010, Wade, Bosh and Haslem are still willing to do so in order to give Miami some financial flexibility, according to Wojnarowski:
James' teammates want to work with Miami president Pat Riley on re-signing with the team at lower financial figures that would allow management to retool with the roster with upgraded talent. Because of James' value as the best player in the NBA, the Heat players understand James' desire to seek maximum contract value, sources said.
It's unknown just how much cap space the Heat will have after presumably signing the four. However, it's worth noting that Bosh's and Wade's agent shot down a report that suggested the expected figure for each was $11 million and $12 million, respectively.
The Heat Are Chasing Some of the Top Free Agents
Even with the presumed financial flexibility that would come from Wade, Bosh and Haslem discounts, Miami will almost certainly not be to afford a top-tier free agent at market value.
Unfortunately for Miami, its chances of landing one of those players is looking pretty slim.
While Riley has been pushing for a meeting with Lowry, nothing is scheduled at this point, according to Wojnarowski.
Deng is unwilling to take "significantly less than his market value" to join the Heat, according to ESPN's Chris Broussard.
Miami Is Kicking the Tires on Many Players
As we just talked about, the Heat might not be able to make a big splash this offseason (aside from re-signing the Big Three). However, there are still a number of attainable free agents the team reportedly has their eyes on.
The point is the Heat are casting a wide net and giving themselves a lot of different options.
Considering the allure of living in South Beach and playing with LeBron, it's likely that just about every player I just mentioned has interest on some level in joining Miami.
Whether the Heat are able to surprise us all and convince Lowry or Deng to take a discount, it's clear Miami will be able to improve its depth around the Big Three one way or another.
Some Familiar Faces Might Be Gone Next Season
Given Norris Cole is the only player currently on Miami's books for next season, there remains a strong possibility that a number of guys from the 2013-14 roster won't be back with the Heat.
Fan-favorite Chris Andersen re-signed with Miami last summer for the veteran minimum salary. However, Bleacher Report's Ethan J. Skolnick reported that such an offer to Andersen this summer "may not do it."
A return for Rashard Lewis is also in question. Yahoo Sports' Marc J. Spears reported that Lewis is expecting interest from four other teams this summer.
As for some of the others, there have been no recent reports suggesting the Heat are working to bring back players such as Greg Oden, Michael Beasley and Toney Douglas.
Also, with Miami acquiring Shabazz Napier on draft night and pursuing free agent point guards, Mario Chalmers' future is unclear.
It would seem the most likely role player to return from last season's team is Ray Allen, whom ESPN's Brian Windhorst reports has "a desire to continue playing alongside LeBron James."