Before we begin, let's just take a second to truly appreciate what has happened. Pat Riley and the Miami Heat have actually pulled off the greatest coup in the history of free-agency.
Never before has a team entered a free-agency period and swept up the top three players available. Let me repeat that, no team has ever entered a free-agency period and swept up the top three players available. Ever!
What Riley, owner Mickey Arison, and the Miami Heat have accomplished borders on miraculous. Riley is a lock for the NBA Executive of the Year award for the 2010-11 season. You might as well pencil him in right now. In fact, you better write it down with a pen.
Riley doesn't just deserve the award for landing the troika, either. He was able to convince a very hard-nosed Bryan Colangelo, and an incredibly bitter and vicious Dan Gilbert to agree to sign-and-trade deals with Miami for Chris Bosh and LeBron James respectively.
Sure, those deals will benefit those franchises as well, but it took a master like Riley to get these two buffoons to see that, and to realize they would be fools not to grab onto the draft picks and trade exceptions they would get by doing the deal, rather than losing out completely.
While there is heartbreak, sorrow, and anger in Cleveland, and even to a lesser degree in Chicago and New York, there is nothing but jubilation in Miami. They are partying down there in South Beach like it's 1999.
Let's now turn to what has actually happened, and some of the details of it, because they will determine (or illuminate if you will) just how much better this party is going to get in the coming days.
First, despite all of the assurances from every blowhard media personality out there, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and LeBron James all agreed to take pay cuts, with Wade's being the biggest.
I can't count the number of times I heard or read over the past month how there was "No way in hell" any of those players would take anything less than the max.
There were numerous stories prior to Wade and Bosh's announcement that detailed how the only reason Bosh hadn't already been sent to Miami in a sign-and-trade deal was because he was demanding every penny he could get.
Really? Man do those people who wrote all that drivel look like fools now.
Bosh, LeBron, and Wade, have agreed to give up $15 million over the life of their contracts. Bosh and LeBron have agreed to six-year contracts fo $110 million that will pay them $14.5 million this coming season, while Wade has taken an even steeper pay cut, inking a six-year deal with the Heat for $107 million that will pay him $14 million this year.
I guess all the cynical idiots out there who thought these three were all about the money will have to reassess some things, won't they?
Now, on to what's important; namely, what this sacrifice by these awesome superstars means for the Miami Heat.
Well, since the salary cap for this year is now reported as $58 million ($2 million more than expected), and the Heat have gotten rid of the $4.9 million salary of Michael Beasley when they traded him to the Minnesota Timberwolves, that means they're looking at having approximately $52 million to play with under the cap prior to the troika's salaries being applied.
That means that if you take the $43 million Wade, Bosh, and LeBron will be making between them off that, Miami now has about $9 million to use to sign players.
It's been reported by numerous sources that Riley and the Heat have already agreed in principle to a five-year, $30 deal with Mike Miller that would be back-loaded in order to increase the amount of money they'd still retain to sign others with that $9 million. This means the first year of Miller's contract is likely somewhere around $3 to $4 million.
There are also reports that the Heat are within a hair's breadth of re-signing fan favorite Udonis Haslem to a similar contract (I'm guessing UD's will probably be more like five-years for $40 million, with a lot more of it being back-loaded).
According to the reports, the only thing holding up that deal, and the Mike Miller deal from being finalized are a few details with the Michael Beasley trade to Minnesota (and not ones that would ever nix the deal for those fools about to try and gloat).
So, let's say between them Mike Miller and UD take up $7 million of that $9 million above. That still means Miami would have about $2 million to play with to sign a pretty decent player to add to the roster.
Then, of course, they also will likely be attracting a boatload of players, including some members of the team from last year, who are willing to take the vet minimum of $1.1 million (which doesn't count against the cap, by the way) in order to get a ring.
Some of the many names mentioned in that group of players are Shaquille O'Neal, Raja Bell, Tracy McGrady, Dorrell Wright, Quentin Richardson, Carlos Arroyo, Jerry Stackhouse, Juwan Howard, Jason Williams, etc.
Whoever Riley surrounds the "Three Kings" with, I'm confident it will be players that will make Miami the prevailing favorite to win the title this coming year. In fact, they already are in Vegas, which has Miami as either a 7-4 or 8-5 favorite to win it all , with the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers behind them as an 11-4 favorite.
Riley has pulled a miracle off down in Miami, and Heat fans are beside themselves with joy. They're partying as hard as anyone could party, and that party is just beginning, because as LeBron said in the introduction and welcoming ceremony that was thrown in American Airlines Arena, "This isn't about two, three, or four, but about five, six, or possibly even seven championships."
Wade, Bosh, and LeBron believe they're going to win more rings than you can put on one hand, and I, for one, believe it along with them. They have the talent, they have the brains, and with Dwyane Wade leading the way I have no doubt they have the will.
The party has just begun.