Ranking Miami Heat's Most Believable Free-Agency Rumors

Sam Richmond@srichmond93Correspondent IJuly 4, 2014

Ranking Miami Heat's Most Believable Free-Agency Rumors

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    In the midst of an offseason when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are free agents, it should surprise absolutely no one that there are a ridiculous amount of Miami Heat-related rumors circulating right now.

    We're going to make it our job to determine which of those rumors we're buying and which of those we're selling.

    We've taken a look at the five most pressing Heat rumors, broken them down and ranked each from least believable to most believable. 

5 (Least Believable). Heat Will Have $12 Million in Cap Space

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    Alan Diaz/Associated Press

    ESPN's Brian Windhorst has reported that the Heat are telling potential free agents that they would have $12 million in cap space to sign them after re-signing LeBron, Wade and Bosh. 

    This rumor is hard to believe for a few reasons.

    For Miami to have $12 million in cap space, Wade and Bosh would likely have to accept contracts in the $11 million-$12 million annual range. The pair's agent called a report that suggested they would do so "BS," according to David Aldridge of NBA.com.

    Also, Bleacher Report's Ethan J. Skolnick reported he was hearing Bosh and Wade wouldn't accept such inexpensive contracts.

    And lastly, if Miami was truly planning to spend $12 million on other free agents, one would think they would have at least pursued coveted players such as Marcin Gortat and Kyle Lowry. Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported the Heat never offered either one of them a contract.

4. Big Three Not on the Same Page?

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    Multiple outlets, such as Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski and ESPN's Chris Broussard, have reported that LeBron, Wade and Bosh are not working in concert at the moment.

    One executive who participated in the meetings over the past two days told Wojnarowski: "There's clearly a breakdown in communication between LeBron and [Wade and Bosh]. [James is] giving Riley time to go get players for them but if that doesn't happen in the next few days … LeBron seems ready to explore the market."

    Simply put, I'm not completely buying this. Even Wojnarowski included a comment from an NBA exec in his piece who said, "I think it's a smokescreen."

    The fact that the Big Three and Udonis Haslem all opted out before the June 30 deadline would suggest they are all working together. It's hard to believe Wade and Haslem, who stand to lose the most money by opting out, would do so without being in tune with what James is thinking.

    Also, it seems odd that three guys who spent the past four years working their tails off together and have formed strong bonds would be unsure of where each stands at such an important moment.

    This rumor shouldn't be fully dismissed because it's coming from multiple trustworthy sources and one would have to admit that a Big Three return to the Heat doesn't seem like the lock it did a week ago.

    However, agents and players (perhaps LeBron's camp wants to put pressure on president Pat Riley to make a big move) have agendas this time of year, and these reports seem like they could be a result of that.

3. Two of Heat's Top Targets Are Trevor Ariza, Luol Deng

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    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    Skolnick has also reported that the Heat are placing an emphasis on wing players and are "extremely interested" in signing Trevor Ariza or Luol Deng.

    This is an easy rumor to believe. Deng and Ariza make a great deal of sense for Miami.

    Windhorst has reported in the past that LeBron wants to see a decrease in minutes next season in order to preserve his body for the playoffs. Signing a very solid small forward would allow the Heat to certainly abide by James' wishes.

    On top of that, these are two players that fit with what Miami wants to do. Both are hard workers on the defensive end and are players who opponents have to respect as scorers. Ariza, specifically, is a great shooter (40.7% 3PT in 2013-14) and would be a floor-spacing asset. 

    The roadblock for signing either one of these guys is that the Heat are unlikely to be able to give them contracts as lucrative as ones they could get from other teams, which Skolnick notes.

    But make no mistake: Miami will work hard to convince them to take a pay cut in order to play with LeBron and Co. in South Beach.

2. Heat Are Pursuing Pau Gasol

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    Danny Moloshok/Associated Press

    Pau Gasol is one of the many players the Heat have been linked to this summer. There's reason to believe Miami has more interest in adding Gasol than some of the other names being thrown around.

    First of all, the Heat have actually met with Gasol, according to Wojnarowski. He wrote: "Across the country in Los Angeles on Thursday, Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra came to meet with free agents about joining the Heat, sources told Yahoo Sports. They met with Los Angeles Lakers free-agent forward Pau Gasol on Thursday, sources said."

    Secondly, why wouldn't Miami be seriously interested in adding Gasol?

    At 33, he's at the age where he's likely to consider taking a discount in order to win, which is the type of guy Miami's looking for.

    He's also still a very productive player, averaging 17.4 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks last season for an awful Los Angeles Lakers team.

    It would be much more surprising if we weren't hearing Gasol-to-Miami rumors at this point. 

1 (Most Believable). LeBron Wants a Max Contract

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    Alan Diaz/Associated Press

    This is another rumor that's been relayed from more than one trusted NBA source. WojnarowskiWindhorst and Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald are among those that have reported LeBron is seeking a max contract this summer.

    From Windhorst: "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."

    LeBron will indeed get a max contract. He's the best player in the league, and it's absurd he's never been the highest-paid NBA player to this point in his career.

    LeBron took a pay cut to join the Heat in 2010. He doesn't need to do so again. It's time for Riley and rival executives to work around James' desires and not the other way around. 

    James has all the leverage in this situation and he's rightfully going to take advantage of it.