Stephen A reporting LeBron, Bosh and Wade all to Miami
The greatest words in the history of professional sport (from Stephen A. Smith):
I got a call last night from a source and I double-checked it with another and they told me essentially that LeBron James and Chris Bosh are going to tag team and go together and join Dwyane Wade in Miami.
Around 10 o’clock last night or so I heard the news and stayed up for a few more hours and made a few phone calls and I felt comfortable enough to go with what I reported.
I believe it’s highly likely, I wouldn’t say anything is a done deal with LeBron James until it’s signed.
Last night I heard emphatically that this is the direction that LeBron James has leaned toward and Dwyane Wade has done a very, very good job of convincing them (James and Bosh) not just about Pat Riley, not just about the fact there are no state (income) taxes in the state of Florida but at the same time he’s there in a tandem and that’s what it’s going to take. Either that or a three-headed monster to win multiple championships and that LeBron James is all in.
This is obviously something of a best case scenario for the Heat.
It’s hard for me to entertain the notion that both Lebron and Chris are unequivocally ready to sign on the dotted line right now and join Dwyane in his quest for basketball immortality. But what if they can be convinced? Then what? Well, let’s review the logistics.
In order to accommodate the trifecta, the Heat would certainly need to trade Michael Beasley. Speculation for some time had been that no teams were interested in the troubled second-year forward. It now seems clear that these rumors were patently false.
Wolves general manager David Kahn confirmed on Sunday that he had contacted the Heat about trading for Beasley. The deal would have sent Beasley to the Wolves in exchange for Ryan Gomes. The Heat could have received an additional $4.0 million in cap space had they made the deal. But Gomes has a James-Jones-like three-year partially-guaranteed contract which, if exercised prior to June 30, would pay him $1.0 million in each of 10/11 and 11/12, and $750k in 12/13. With more than $16 million of projected cap space, Minnesota figures to have a continued interest when free agency begins.
In fact, Pat Riley has confirmed that as many as 22 teams have contacted the Heat about Beasley. It seems likely that the Heat would be able to find a suitor on short notice, if one has not already been secured.
But math dictates the Heat would still not have enough cap room for three max contracts, even if Mario Chalmers were moved as well.
Excluding Beasley and Chalmers, the Heat will start the off-season with just Jones’ buyout ($1,856,000) on the books. Two maximum contracts, at $16,568,908 each, would cost the Heat an additional $33,137,816 against the salary cap. Incorporating ten roster charges would bring the team’s available cap room for a third max free agent to $16,370,144.
The latest salary cap projection provided by David Stern, at the start of the playoffs, was $56,100,000. That leaves a projected shortfall of $198,764.
There are several ways in which the gap can be bridged.
The commish could do us South Floridians a huge favor by reporting a slightly higher than expected cap figure ($56,298,764).
The trio could also accept slightly less than maximum salaries to make the math work. But it is certainly conceivable that they would not be receptive to such an approach. While the reduction from max dollars would only be $66,255 per player (a tad more than a single night with Ashley Dupre), the psychological impact could be problematic. Three super-sized egos would need to accept below market dollars.
Another approach to acquiring the added funds would be for the Heat to negotiate a reduced buyout of James Jones’ contract. Jones has a three-year partial guarantee which would pay him $5.952 million over three years if his contract is terminated prior to June 30. To make the math work, Jones would need to accept a reduced buyout of $5,313,846, a difference of $638,154. The team has reportedly been working this angle.
Regardless of approach, the problem is imminently solvable.
What was once the ridiculous bantering of the delusional few now appears to be a reasonable, if not likely, reality. If the dream were to become a reality, the Heat would make franchise and league history. Never before has an NBA roster been constructed of three maximum contract players and double digit minimum contract players. But that’s exactly how the roster would need to be constructed.
With that in mind, let’s take a quick scan at some of the available free agents to see who might appreciate a few extra rings at the cost of a few extra bucks.
Point Guard. Miami mainstay Carlos Arroyo would be destined for a reunion tour. Other veteran possibilities could include former Heat guard Jason Williams, Keyon Dooling and Steve Blake. Developmental options include Javaris Crittenton and Shaun Livingston.
Blake, a Florida native, would be a wonderful addition. He’s not the most explosive name around, but he is serviceable, he runs a team well, and more importantly, he’s an experienced veteran. He won’t set the world on fire on either end, but he won’t hurt you either. He does just what a veteran should do – take care of the ball and hit open jump shots. His 39.3 career 3-point field goal percentage is among the best you’ll find at the position – a critical asset opposite two swingmen that require open driving lanes to operate most effectively.
Shooting Guard. Never before has a player been more transparent about his intentions than has Raja Bell in regard to his desire for the coming off-season. The 6’5″ FIU product was quoted as saying, “I’ll tell you like this, Pat. If you can use my services give me a call, I’m right around the corner, 36th and Biscayne. Give me a call.”
Another intriguing name is Ray Allen. Allen could provide big, and unexpected, help to the rotation by accepting a league-minimum contract. He certainly doesn’t need to accept such small dollars. The Celtics are sure to offer him much more. But the buzz in Boston is that he’s not exactly thrilled about the more prominent role played by Rajon Rondo, and would love to join Wade in the backcourt. This could be the impetus Dwyane needs to shift back to the point.
Other combo guard possibilities include former Heat players Eddie House and Luther Head, as well as Flip Murray. True two-guard options include veterans Jerry Stackhouse, Larry Hughes, Marquis Daniels, Michael Finley and Roger Mason.
Small Forward. Da’Sean Butler, the Heat’s 42nd overall draft pick, is sure to secure a roster spot if his left knee heels as expected. Last season’s pick, Robert Dozier, needs to recover from his surgically repaired left foot to have a shot.
The next batch of potentials already call South Florida home. A waived James Jones could become a real possibility as a re-signed minimum contract player. Quentin and Dorell figure to be longer shots. But hey, if Dwyane is as good a salesman as the rumors claim him to be, maybe he can seduce two more. If not, a second stint with Rasual Butler could be a nice alternative. Butler would add some coveted defensive intensity to the backcourt.
Other possibilities include Damien Wilkins, Ime Udoka, Jarvis Hayes, Stephen Graham, Trenton Hassell and the soon-to-be-waived Ryan Gomes. Isn’t it great when I spout out random names like this?
The Knicks will undoubtedly pick up the contract of my boy Bill Walker, but it’s fun to dream.
Power Forward. The league is filled with experienced big men. Ike Diogu, Joe Smith, Juwan Howard (yeah, right!), Louis Amundson, Shavlik Randolph, Sheldon Williams and Tim Thomas are all free agent bigs already playing for the league minimum this season. Drew Gooden, Hakim Warrick and Matt Bonner are possibilities, though they’d need to take significant pay cuts.
Jarvis Varnado, the 6’9″ power forward from Mississippi State drafted by the Heat with the 41st overall pick, figures to be a possible replacement for Joel Anthony. But the NCAA’s career leader in blocked shots needs to add some bulk if he is to do so.
I would love to add Udonis Haslem to the list, but that’s simply not realistic.
Joel Anthony could also be back, potentially with a good-sized raise, because the Heat can retain his Bird rights at a low cost. If not, wouldn’t it be nice for Kurt Thomas to close out his career with a Larry O’Brien trophy on the team that originally drafted him 16 seasons prior? But if that doesn’t come to pass, other options include Ben Wallace, Brad Miller, Brian Skinner, Etan Thomas, Fabricio Oberto, Kwame Brown and the forever young Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
Miller is an interesting name. He may be well past his prime and he’s not exactly fleet-of-foot, but he can be effective in spurts. He’s essentially admitted he’ll play on the cheap, so even though any number of teams would be willing to offer him a significantly larger contract, it is a possibility.
The list includes shooters (of which a team can never have enough), defenders (which win teams championships), and all around solid role players. It does not include spectacular playmakers (guys willing to accept minimum contracts are typically untested second round draft picks, guys who can’t cut it in this league or aging veterans looking for a few more days in the sun). But with three potential hall-of-famers in the primes of their careers, that’s all the Heat would really need.
Pick your own favorite twelve.
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