LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh each leave $15 million on the table, but can opt-out after fourth year

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The numbers have come out, and the Miami Thrice team-up of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh are true to their word, money was not the main thing.

Okay, it was a pretty big thing. James and Bosh are each making $110.1 million over the course of six years, with Wade making $107. It’s not like they’ll be having to live paycheck to paycheck.

But they will be leaving $15 million on the table to play together. In the first year of their contract, Bosh and James will be making $14.5 million (Wade with $14 flat), nearly two million less than what they would have made base-year at the max (in a non-sign-and-trade). They’ll each receive 10.5% raises throughout the life of the contract. But what’s most notable, as ESPN reports in their release of the numbers, is the interesting way each contract ends.

Let’s say this thing is an unmitigated disaster. The first year they struggle, and chalk it up to role players or still learning to play with each other. The second year something weird happens and they just can’t get it together or there’s an injury. And the third year they fail, once more, and again in the fourth. A colossal failure with people pointing fingers and they’re the laughing stock of the league. The most incredible part of this deal?

They can all do this whole thing again in 2014 after the fourth year.

The contract allows for opt-outs for the fifth and sixth year of the deal.

Wowzers.

The amount of power this contract yields for the three is simply staggering. They hold an inordinate amount of power, as expected, and have the option to stay for six years if they want. If one of them were to, God forbid, suffer a severe injury that changes their career forever. They can be making $20 million plus at age 34 (Wade) or 31 (James, Bosh). But if they’re dominating the league but want a change of scenery, if jealousy rears its ugly and predictable head, they can be out there on the front line of free agency again.

Leaving the money on the table? It is staggering. You have to understand, multiple sources I spoke to within agencies and the league told me there was no way they would leave the money on the table. None. That’s not how this works. But that’s what they did.

It’s a staggering combination of brash selfishness and admirable selflessness in a pursuit of greatness. It’s staggering ego meets the sacrifice we ask of athletes. We can’t be happy with their image, despite doing exactly what we want athletes to do, sacrifice to win, because of the way it happened. It’s a conundrum of public relations. And nobody wins, except Heat fans.

That said, the pieces are in place, the agreements have been ironed out. Everyone will be watching, to see if they succeed, and many will be watching, hoping they fail. As James wrote on Twitter:

“The Road to History starts now!”

Union to fund health insurance for retired NBA players

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 23:  Professional basketball player Chris Paul commentates during the CP3 PBA Celebrity Invitational Charity Bowling Tournament presented by GoBowling.com at Lucky Strike Lanes at L.A. Live on February 23, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for Professional Bowlers Association)
Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for Professional Bowlers Association
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The National Basketball Players Association has talked for more than a year about covering medical expenses for retired players.

Today, the union announced a formal plan.

NBPA release:

The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) announced today that its player representatives have voted unanimously to fund health insurance for all retired NBA players with at least three years of service in the league. This program is the first of its kind among North American professional sports. It also exemplifies the NBPA’s focus on the health and welfare of its current, retired and future members.

“The game has never before been more popular, and all the players in our league today recognize that we’re only in this position because of the hard work and dedication of the men who came before us,” said Chris Paul, NBPA President and nine-time All-Star. “It’s important that we take care of our entire extended NBA family, and I’m proud of my fellow players for taking this unprecedented step to ensure the health and well-being of our predecessors.”

The unanimous vote – which took place during the NBPA Summer Meeting in New York on June 26 – established a multi-faceted health insurance program through UnitedHealthcare, the country’s leading health benefits provider. The current proposal includes:

  • Retired players with between three and six years of NBA service time but who are not yet eligible for Medicare would be offered a plan that includes medical, hospital and prescription drug coverage with modest out-of-pocket costs for deductibles and co-pays;

  • Those with between seven and nine years of service would be offered the same coverage with even lower out-of-pocket costs;

  • Retired players with at least 10 years of service would be offered the same coverage as the seven-to-nine year players, and would include coverage for their entire family;

  • Retired players with three-nine years of service who are eligible for Medicare would be offered a $0 deductible and $0 co-pay plan along with a low-cost prescription drug plan; those with 10+ years of service to receive this coverage for themselves and their spouse.

  • The open enrollment period for retired players would begin this fall, with coverage beginning on January 1, 2017.

This is a good thing.

It also could become a bargaining point in Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. Should current players face the entire burden of insuring retired players, or should owners split the cost? (The fact that the question is even being posed paints players in a positive light.)

But back to the bigger point: This is a good thing. It’ll help retired players who need it, retired players who helped position the current generation to afford this. Kudos to the union for stepping up.

Report: Bulls’ Cristiano Felicio ‘strong favorite’ to replace Anderson Varejao on Brazilian Olympic team

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 19: Cristiano Felicio #6 of the Chicago Bulls looks to pass against the Toronto Raptors at the United Center on February 19, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Raptors 116-106. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Warriors center Anderson Varejao will miss the Rio Olympics due to a back injury.

Where will Team Brazil turn now?

Likely to Bulls center Cristiano Felicio.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Felicio came on strong late last season. He puts his 6-foot-10, 275-pound frame to good use protecting the paint and rebounding. He showed potential as passer and mid-range shooter, too.

At age 24, he’s a candidate to break out in the Olympics.

If he’s not ready, Brazil can turn to a steady veteran at center, Nene.

Report: Equipment staffer punched by Blake Griffin no longer works for Clippers

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin stands on the court as equipment manager Matias Testi, left, stands behind the bench during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016, in Los Angeles. Griffin broke his hand last month when he punched Testi in the face. The Clippers won 105-86. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
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Blake Griffin broke his hand punching Clippers equipment manager Matias Testi in January.

Make that former Clippers equipment manager Matias Testi.

TMZ:

The L.A. Clippers equipment staffer who was punched in the face by Blake Griffin during a fight in Toronto earlier this year is off the team — and will NOT be back for the ’16/’17 season … TMZ Sports has learned.

We spoke with a rep for the Clippers who confirmed Matias Testi “no longer works for the team.”

#Family

Writer recants report of Kevin Durant telling Russell Westbrook he’d re-sign with Thunder

OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 03:  Kevin Durant #35 and Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder talk to head coach Billy Donovan during their game against the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on March 3, 2016 in Oakland, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The report that Kevin Durant told Russell Westbrook he’d re-sign with the Thunder before choosing the Warriors?

Never mind.

Royce Young of ESPN:

I misspoke in saying that Durant specifically told Westbrook he was coming back.