The Finals are far from done, but that hasn’t stopped rumors about the Heat’s offseason plans from dominating the headlines heading into Game 4. It’s been widely assumed the Heat’s big three—LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh—would continue their pursuit of more championships. The partnership has been mostly a success, as Miami is in its fourth consecutive Finals since acquiring the three stars.
According to reports, Miami’s front office is thinking even bigger, and have plans of convincing their three superstars to opt out of their contracts, then take pay cuts in order to allow them to pursue Carmelo Anthony in free agency. Yes, The Big Four might become a thing as early as next season.
Now, in order to make this work, several things have to happen. It’s not impossible, but would take the co-operations of all parties involved. First, Carmelo has to opt out of the final year of his contract. He has until June 23rd to notify the Knicks whether he’s going to do so. Phil Jackson has been pushing Carmelo to opt in and delay his free agency, with the idea that the Knicks will be able to pursue other superstars in a year’s time. If Carmelo does opt out, the next step for the Heat would be to convince LeBron, Wade and Bosh to take a pay cut. Keep in mind, the three stars already accepted less than max money to make the arrangement work to begin with, and would have to face a further reduction in their annual pay in order to allow for the Heat to sign Carmelo.
LeBron in particular may be willing to take a pay cut because he has significant off the court revenue coming from endorsements and news that he made $30 million in cash and stocks from the recent sale of Beats Electronics to Apple. Whether he can convince his teammates Wade and Bosh to follow suit with the payouts is another story.
This seems complicated, but if the stars want to make it happen, it can work under the cap. The Heat have a very clean cap sheet for next season and can have up to $50 million in cap space to work with. If this were to happen, a lot of fans would be upset just because of the competitive imbalance it would cause by having four stars on one team. Of course, we should keep in mind that—setting these Finals aside—the Heat have won two titles in three seasons, and were one Ray Allen shot away from only having one championship at the moment. Despite how overwhelming their roster looks on paper, it has not been as easy as signing three stars and coasting to title wins every season.
If Pat Riley does indeed pull this off, it will likely be a bigger accomplishment than joining the big three in the first place. He will secure another superstar at below market value in Carmelo Anthony. At the same time, he would by way of acquiring Carmelo, be convincing Wade—who is in the declining phase of his career—to accept less than the max. Plus, he’ll get the best player in the world to commit to another long-term deal that will cover the remaining of his prime years. The offseason just got a lot more interesting.
Follow me on Twitter @steven_lebron