If the Miami Heat’s big three of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James all decided not to opt out and came back to the Heat under their current contracts, they would make a combined $61.3 million next season. Next year’s salary cap is currently projected to be $62.9 million.
However, all three of them can and may well opt out and seek longer, potentially richer deals (LeBron and Bosh almost certainly will, Wade seems likely unless he only wants to play a couple more years). Those potentially larger salaries could really hamstring management’s ability to put a good enough team around those three to win a title.
All of which came up in the wake of Kobe Bryant’s extension with the Lakers. Kobe will make $48.5 million over the next two seasons, which is a paycut from the $30 million a year he makes but also will leave him the highest paid player in the league. That money going to Kobe cuts into the cap space the Lakers would have had available to put players around him. A lot of people expected Kobe to take a Tim Duncan sized contract (he went from $21 million down to $9.6 million) and there was some frustration in Los Angeles.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com tried to ask Wade about if he would take a paycut.
LeBron James answered for him.
“D-Wade is getting that Kobe deal,” James said from the next locker
Wade, knowing the gravity of this issue, smiled and shook his head. Then he gave a more diplomatic answer.
“When I get into that position, it’s something I’ll think about,” Wade said. “You have to sit down at the time and see what is best for you and for your team.”
That’s vague, but what else do you expect Wade to say?
At this point the discussion is largely theoretical. How this all plays out will depend on a lot of things, including how the Heat do in the playoffs this season. All three took a little bit less money in 2010 to come together, would they be willing to take more of a cut to stay together? Would Wade be willing to make a larger sacrifice? Or does Bosh decide he wants to be the star somewhere else and bolt? How much luxury tax is Miami’s ownership willing to pay?
All of these conversations will happen with agents on some level before July 1, when all of them can be free agents. Both management and the players have some hard questions to answer before then.