Bosh tells Heat he opts out | Inquirer Sports

Bosh tells Heat he opts out

/ 08:27 PM June 30, 2014

Miami Heat’s Chris Bosh talks to a reporter after a news conference in Miami, Tuesday, June 17, 2014. The Miami Heat held their season-wrapup team meeting on Tuesday afternoon and one of the biggest questions is about the future of the roster. AP

MIAMI — LeBron James went first. Dwyane Wade followed a few days later. And now Chris Bosh has made it a clean sweep. The Heatles, as the Miami Heat trio is known, are free, for now anyway.

Bosh told the Heat on Sunday that he, like James and Wade, will be exercising the early termination option in his contract and forgoing the final two years on his Miami deal — making him a free agent. The move was not unexpected, and gives the Heat a gigantic amount of financial flexibility to shop with when the free-agent window officially opens at midnight Tuesday.

Bosh’s decision was the last domino that the Heat needed to fall in order to free up the biggest amount of money possible heading into free agency. In pro North American sports, players are free to negotiate with any team once their contracts are up.

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James, Wade and Bosh famously teamed up in 2010 to accept a little less than the NBA’s maximum salaries in 2010, allowing Miami to sign all three and afford help around them. That was the last time free agency was accompanied by the sort of frenzy that will envelop the NBA over the next few weeks.

If Miami’s Big Three do something similar now, that could allow the Heat to replenish their roster, which would have been nearly impossible if they had decided to keep playing under their existing contracts.

James, basketball’s biggest star, averaged 27.1 points this past season. He turns 30 next season and might just be entering his prime.

In James’ four seasons in Miami, the Heat have been to the NBA Finals in each of those years, winning two championships and more games than any other team over that span. James seems to have largely recovered from the hit his image took when he left hometown Cleveland for Miami, often saying he’s much happier now as a person than he was then.

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Like James, Bosh could have made $20,590,000 this coming season, and $22,112,500 in the 2015-16 season. Wade was due to make slightly less in each of those years, but between those three and Udonis Haslem — who did not exercise a player option to make $4.6 million next season — that’s about $66 million in salary that Miami could have been locked in to paying if these decisions went another way.

Instead, the thinking seems to be that in order for the Heat to get better, players knew they needed to give Heat President Pat Riley room to work.

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“Being able to have flexibility as a professional, anyone, that’s what we all would like,” James said earlier this offseason, shortly after the finals.

Riley expressed similar sentiments when James opted out Tuesday and Wade exercised his option Saturday. On Sunday he recognized Bosh’s role in Miami’s run of success.

“Chris is one of the most versatile and dynamic big men in this league, and he has been an instrumental key to our championship success over the last four seasons,” Riley, the Heat president, said in a statement released by the team. “We look forward to meeting with Chris and his agent in the coming days to discuss keeping him in Miami for many years to come.”

All three will be free to sign elsewhere, but there’s no indication yet that they’ll even look at other clubs — and if they agree to new deals with the Heat, the team would almost certainly have more than enough financial freedom to upgrade.

Bosh, who averaged 16.2 points this past season, told The Associated Press this month: “I like it here. It’s Miami. Enough said. People are dying to get here.”

The NBA’s salary cap, which exists to keep richer teams from outspending lesser ones, is expected to be somewhere around $63.2 million for next season, so the Heat will have tons of spending power. Much of that, they hope, will go right back to keeping James, Wade and Bosh together. The luxury tax threshold should be around $77 million next season, and perhaps up to $81 million for the following year.

Reserve guard Norris Cole has a guaranteed contract for just over $2 million for next season, and little-used center Justin Hamilton has a partially guaranteed deal that could wind up being worth $816,000. Everyone else from the team that lost to San Antonio in five games in this season’s finals either will be a free agent, or in Shane Battier’s case, has retired.

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Among other key Heat free agents: Ray Allen has indicated he would think about returning, point guard Mario Chalmers is expected to listen to other teams but said late in the season that he enjoys Miami, and forward Chris Andersen said he’s prepared to play the waiting game.

TAGS: Chris Bosh, Free Agent, Miami Heat, NBA, Sports

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