Unless you’ve been living under a rock, by now you’ve heard LeBron James has decided to take his talents back to Cleveland after four years of “NBA college” in Miami. All is not lost, what looked like a complete rebuilding project is on hold on the news that Chris Bosh is staying in Miami as opposed to signing with Houston as was the genuinely assumed to be the case if James left. Still this remains a tremendous blow Miami’s status as a legitimate contender for the next several years.
After wrapping up the Bosh re-signing, Miami still has plenty of work to do. Bosh’s salary will start at around $20.3 million in the first year of his new deal. After singing Danny Granger and Josh McRoberts to small deals, the Heat will have around $30 million in salary committed to five players (Granger, McRoberts, Norris Cole and rookie Shabazz Napier ). So with all that salary money and roster space available, where does Miami go from here?
First, they have to resolve the contract status of Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem. Both players undoubtedly participated in Miami’s all-in gamble this summer with some assurances that management would “take care of them.” Though such understandings aren’t binding (and in fact are possibly against league rules), going back on those kinds of handshake deals could badly hurt the Heat in future dealings with players and especially agents. The size and structure of those deals will go a long way towards determining who Miami can pursue to fill out there remaining roster spots.
For the sake of argument, Wade’s new deal will probably be in the range of 3 years and $50 million (starting at around $16m in year one) and Haslem will get around $5 million for 2 years. With these two added back to the roster, the Heat will be on the hook for around $51 million (including cap holds for an incomplete roster.)
With around $12 million to play with, who should they chase? Early reporting the Heat in the hunt for replacement small forwards such as Luol Deng and Trevor Ariza. Those players are certainly options, but instead of chasing after a like-for-like replacement for LeBron what if the Heat decided to break outside the small forward box while going younger?
Here are three possible options: