Report: LeBron James not likely leaving Miami, but he still wants a max deal

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Here’s a surprising statistic: LeBron James has never been the highest paid player on his team.

Not in his final years in Cleveland (Zydrunas Ilgauskas) and not in Miami.

Now, he wants that to change. With Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron all opting out In Miami nobody around the league expects LeBron to bolt the Heat — he’s not even taking meetings with other teams. That said, LeBron wants to get paid, reports Brian Windhorst at ESPN.

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 is projected to be $22.2 million….

If James follows through with his demands for a deal starting at the full max number and the Heat also re-sign Bosh and Wade, then Miami will likely not be left with appreciable salary-cap space even if Wade and Bosh accept pay cuts.

However, there are scenarios where the Heat could re-sign all three players plus veterans Udonis Haslem and Ray Allen and still be able to use the $5.3 million midlevel exception, the $2 million biannual exception and a $2.2 million trade exception to bring in some new role players.

How flexible will LeBron be becomes the question. Would he take $20 million a year and have an opt-out after three years again? Still then it would take Wade and Bosh taking more like $15 million a year to give Pat Riley the ability to sign anybody of consequence, outside using just the exceptions at his disposal. If the Heat — more specifically if LeBron, Wade and Bosh — are serious about signing name free agents such as a Luol Deng or Pau Gasol (not to mention the more expensive Kyle Lowry) they are going to need to make some sacrifices.

My guess is the Heat’s three stars have already hashed out the numbers, at least in a rough form, and when they speak to Riley just after midnight they will lay out a coordinated plan.

Then it will be on Riley to do some recruiting.