Patience or panic on South Beach?

By Jeff Caplan, NBA.com


VIDEO: What’s up with Miami’s Big Three? David Aldridge and the guys check in …

Out of the blue, one week after the Big Three met for a meal before breaking for family vacations and whatnot, we’re to believe LeBron James is going rogue and leaving super pals Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in the dark?

Yeah, sure. And Ben Gordon’s getting two years and $9 million.

Whoa. Hold that thought.

We’re now into Day 3 of free agency. Carmelo Anthony is onto city No. 4. And the Miami Heat have yet to make a first move. Supposed top targets, Washington’s Marcin Gortat and Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, are off the board, with both players re-upping with their own teams for more money than the Heat could have afforded.

And still, we have no clearer picture as to how much money Miami president of basketball operations Pat Riley has in his wallet. So we’re left guessing as to the true financial desires of each of the Big Three. Competing reports have pegged Bosh as being good with making $11 million next season — exceedingly below market value (Gortat will make $12 million next season) — or seeking as much as $18 million per. Wade reportedly would be fine starting at $12 million next season.

(Henry Thomas, agent to both Bosh and Wade, denies the lower figures as being accurate.)

James reportedly wants a max deal — projected to be around $20.7 million next year — and, truthfully, why shouldn’t he get it? But, James also knows the more he demands, the less cap space Riley has available to make the team, as James put it after losing to the Spurs in five games, “better at every position.”

The Big Three don’t seem overly concerned. James is on vacation snapping up tuna with his kids, and his agent, Rich Paul, has yet to set up a single meeting with another team.

Bosh has been having fun cheering on the USA at the World Cup.

And Wade seems to be enjoying being a dad.

There remains no evidence to suggest James has muzzled Wade and Bosh. Of course, we can’t prove he hasn’t either. So the longer the Heat don’t land reinforcements, the larger the concern grows (from outside, at least) that the Super Friends will call the whole thing off.

If James indeed will settle for nothing less than the max, and if Bosh and Wade are determined to collect at least $15 million next season (again, we don’t know this) … add Norris Cole‘s guaranteed money plus salary designated for James’ hand-picked, first-round selection Shabazz Napier, and Riley will be left with less than $10 million below the expected salary cap of $63 million.

That’s not much for high-end shopping. The Big Three, if they are committed to staying together, will have to act accordingly.

Good players still are available, starting with personal favorite Pau Gasol, who has already received phone calls from Riley, the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs and the Lakers. The Heat and Thunder each have the full mid-level exception of $5.3 million to spend. It’s would mark a significant pay cut for Gasol. That’s price of jumping to a contender.

At point guard, there’s been little mention of Toronto’s other sneaky talented quarterback Greivis Vasquez, a restricted free agent who likely can be had now that Kyle Lowry is locked up to a four-year, $48 million deal.

Steve Blake, Leandro Barbosa, Mo Williams and D.J. Augustin, who played so well after joining the Bulls midseason, remain unsigned. At the wing, higher-priced free agents like Trevor Ariza and Luol Deng will be more difficult to sign, but veterans such as Vince Carter and Shawn Marion shouldn’t be.

Three-point-shooting big man Channing Frye is out there. So is Spencer Hawes. A more physical post player, Jordan Hill needs a home, too.

Maybe James is going rogue. Maybe he has an internal clock ticking on Riley. Maybe James’ agent soon will begin calling rival general managers for a sit down.

But for right now, Day 3 of free agency, James, Wade and Bosh certainly seem to be taking it all in stride.

And Ben Gordon is getting paid.

12 Comments

  1. bballjunkie1 says:

    Miami became Cleveland all over again for Lebron, Never addressing or solving the problems timely. Now u are stuck with all these players who now have been exposed, so they not tradeable for any real help. Wonder what would have happened if Chalmers were let go after first championship loss, maybe u alyrady have a Bleadso? Wonder if Spo was let go after not pushing any buttons after Carlise inserted Berea into starting line up game 3? How about giving the ball to a 3x MVP, that championship was winable. Its water under the bridge now. Hold firm Lebron if u must 1 year and option 2nd then see what it do. If not New York would be great better pices than what u have now and u would have access toPhil, then u can always go home 2.

  2. harrythehawk says:

    The Heat, as we know them, are done. So if Lebron feels this way too, Wade will be the only one who stays. Lebron and Bosh are marketable and will seek dynasties elsewhere. Pat Riley is playing around too much. Even Heat fans at this point, are no amused with all this showboating. Even I’m on the edge of my seat and I’m not even a Heat fan!

  3. Chad says:

    PANIC mode for sure. There are probably a million reasons. But a easy few:

    1. They lost the finals bad, very bad. What makes anyone think retooling this team by adding a few non impactful players with the little money they have will increase the chance of winning by any much.

    2. There is no big 3. There is only a big 1 (lebron). Wade has been useless with his injuries and so has Bosh (wanting to shoot 3s). Sure wade may show flashes of his formal self every now and then but that ratio is like 1 in 10 games. Similar with bosh. Occasionally he looks good with knocking down those 3s but it’s fool’s gold. He’s a PF that needs to pound the paint and rebound and he hasn’t been wanting and/or able to do it.

    3. Lebron played well himself throughout the series. It’s basically telling him that he is not the problem that they lost but because of the rest of the team not pulling their own weight.

    3. The desire to win another championship in the same team. Lebron has already won 2 in miami. How good do you think he will feel if he wins the 3rd in miami. It won’t be a “3peat” or ‘in-a-row’ type record. No one cares that you won 3 championships in 4 tries. a “3peat” sounds so much better.

    4. The sense of reward for winning championships diminishes each time you receive it. It’s not like he’s going for the bill russell record. However he has a chance of doing something really different – by winning champion ships on DIFFERENT teams. Even the best (kobe/jordan) didn’t achieve this feat. If lebron leaves miami and wins with another team, he clearly can say that it is because of him. Jordan had pipen, kobe had shaaq/gasol and you can say I had wade/bosh but I’ll prove it that I don’t need them by winning with another team. That would be the ultimate achievement.

    • TPfan says:

      saying that lebron want to prove that he can win by himself in another team is crazy. he clearly will go to a team that he can help win championships not a team that he will the one that carry it…

  4. LBJKIN6JAMES says:

    Patience or Panic … Lets all just remember how the finals ended … [worst finals loss in NBA history] … Also the fact that Wade sat out almost 30 games last year and his knees are only getting worse with age… Also the fact that Bosh thinks he’s a SG now and just wants to shoot 3’s and is still a weak rebounder …. And what has Pat Riley done differently with the roster, besides drafting Shabazz Napier….

    I would say PANIC for Miami.

    • charless702 says:

      Bosh doesn’t think he’s a SG now. Pat Riley, Spoelstra and Lebron made him be a 3 point shooter. I’ve also never seen the guy complain once about this “new role” they made him take. They refuse to feed him in the post and they refuse to let him play within 20 feet of the basket on offense which drastically cut down his offensive rebounds. They also insist on playing small ball which drastically cut his defensive rebounds in two ways. One his man is the one running pick and rolls meaning he has to now come out to the perimeter leaving him out of position to rebound. He’s also usually the only big man on the floor meaning he now has to take up trying to block or alter shots from people driving into the paint, which also leaves him out of position to rebound. Nobody on that Heat team has sacrificed more than Bosh. The guy is an amazing player and an even better teammate. He never whines, he never cries, he doesn’t through temper tantrums or blame others for his own mistakes even though one of his teammates is famous for doing all of those. Any team in the NBA would be lucky to have Chris Bosh in their uniform. I can guarantee you one thing, if the Heat don’t re-sign this guy, which a lot of Heat fans no longer want him on the team, they will surely regret it. He’ll get back to the old Chris Bosh and Miami will be jello inside and get eaten alive by any big man with mediocre talent.

    • Afsdgwgs says:

      and bandwagon change for you next year

  5. KDfan says:

    This is a result of an unnatural deal that happened between LBJ, DWade, Bosh. It was destined to be short-lived. Most of the Franchises who have won multiple championships ( many more than the Heat have) have had their core drafted and they’ve stuck through thick and thin despite early loses. If LBJ couldn’t achieve what he wanted to with the Cavs or the Cavs management could’t achieve their collective goal, is a reflection of their respective and collective incompetence and/or lack of patience and confidence. “Built not Bought” is a true mantra. IF LBJ isn’t able to win any more championships, where do you realistically think he will stand in the NBA history? Will his name be taken in the same breath as MJ, Kobe? Short sightedness, a politically correct word for INSTANT GRATIFICATION, statistically does not pay off in the long run (even with lady luck on your side). Thinking in the long term and long haul goes a long way in establishing a successful franchise. On the flip side look what has recently happened to the Lakers. They are thinking short term now to hurriedly get another ring before Kobe retires or his contract expires. REALLY? They are nowhere close to even the playoffs even with Kobe with or without Melo. Prove me wrong.

    • Bull says:

      I think LBJ already has his place in history and it is comparable to Kobe but not MJ. It is comparable to Kobe because he is only 29 so has years to play at the highest level and compete. Too much emphasis on rings and not all round game. Kobe could get 2 more rings and would not be better than MJ. Not just lower stats it is measuring the game of the individual and how he makes a team better. Jordan did more in less time than Kobe so please don’t compare MJ with Kobe. You can compare LBJ and Kobe.

      The loyalty argument is a nice principle but does not make you a better player. LBJ leaving Cleveland was good for Cleveland, if LBJ comes back at a reduced rate later. You do not get good draft picks when you have one of the best records in the league. Imagine if LBJ had started his career in Boston or with the Lakers, a championship team from the start, the rings would not even be an issue. I wonder where Kobe would be now if he had started his career with Cleveland.

    • well says:

      didnt know the bulls drafted rodman and pippen too…..

      • NBA fan says:

        Neither of them was drafted by da Bulls…Rodman was a 2nd round pick by the Pistons and Pippen was drafted by the Sonics and traded.

    • dmh says:

      Actually most championship franchises do a combination of building and buying. The bulls drafted Jordan sure, but half of the rest of Jordan’s championship squads were the result of trades (Rodman) and minor signings. Technically, the Charlotte Hornets drafted Kobe and traded him to the Lakers on draft day. However it was the Lakers that developed Kobe into a superstar. The rest of Kobe’s championship teams were the result of signings (Shaq) and trades (Pau) mainly…. Yes Bynum was the result of a draftee and developing dealio too as well as Derek Fisher. The spurs drafted Robinson and Duncan but have made shrewd signings (Diaw) and trades (G Hill for Leonard’s draft rights) along the way. The heat drafted Wade but traded for Shaq for the first championship as well as signed Lebron and Bosh for the other two.

      The new CBA has kind of put a wrench in the bought part of the equation. That is the reason why the Lakers have had a down season trying to get under the cap. The spurs haven’t had a down season since the day that Tim Duncan was drafted due to their abilities to find diamonds in the rough. The heat had some down seasons in between their first championship and the big 3. The problem is that in the big 3 era the heat have pretty much been giving draft picks away instead of developing them into role players. Now the only thing that the heat have to show for that strategy is Norris Cole and rumor has it the heat are even trying to give him away in spite of everything.

      As far as LBJ’s place in history, he sealed that fate when the big 3 was formed. It bought him a couple rings and 2 other finals appearances but, it was cheapened by the bought part of the big 3. He doesn’t get his teammates good contracts when all done like MJ did for Kerr, Kukoc, Grant, and Longley. LBJ needs a ready-made team. Heck, even Kobe got Derek Fisher a good contract with the Utah Jazz before his kid got sick. LBJ does not make his teammates better. He just buys jewelry for them if they are good enough already to get their job’s done.

      In other words, in this era it is better to be built, not bought but a healthy combination can get the job done.