How Can The Miami Heat Retain The Big Three After The Summer of 2014?
A couple of months after the second championship in a row, the Miami Heat seem to be ready to fight for a three-peat. They are surely one of the biggest favorites to win it all next season, if not the biggest favorite. Apart from the outcome of the next season, a big concern for Pat Riley and the entire Miami Heat organization is about the future of the team, after the 2014 summer offseason.
Next summer, the Big Three are set to become unrestricted free-agents. All three have opt-out terms, which they are very likely to use. In fact, as of lately and after the celebrations of the 2013 NBA Championship cooled off, the rumor mill consisted of several stories about the next possible destinations of each member of the Big Three. And if Dwyane Wade can be considered almost a lock for the Miami Heat, LeBron James and Chris Bosh are definitely not. So how can this team stay together and compete for not three, not four, not five, as LeBron initially promised?
First of all, the Miami Heat will have to win the championship next season, too. Although this is not a bonding reason for the Big Three to stay in Miami, if they lose, the pressure for the dissolution of the team will be huge. Even during the 2012-2013 campaign, there were many rumors talking about the end of the era of the Big Three after the next season. So, if the Heat can’t be a dynasty, a team that dominates in the league, there might be no good reason for LeBron, Wade and Bosh to stay together.
The next big issue the Heat will face next summer is financial. There is no way the team can retain its current format unless the Big Three, or some of them, agree to take a pay cut.According to the current state of the contracts, the Big Three alone will push the Heat’s payroll to $60 million. The salary cap for the next season is estimated currently at $62.5 million, with the luxury tax limit estimated at $76.1 million. So, if the Big Three don’t agree to take a discount in their maxed contracts, then their future together will be difficult.
In addition and in continuation to the above, the Miami Heat will also have to acquire quality role players as bargains. Pat Riley and the Heat’s stars have been very successful in that sector. The cases of Mike Miller, Shane Battier and most recently Ray Allen prove that Miami has become a magnetizing destination for several veterans, who are willing to take pay cuts in order to contend for a championship. If the Heat wishes to continue riding on the road of success, they will also have to continue acquiring cheap talent.
An unpredictable factor of course will be the firepower of other contenders around the league. The past couple of seasons, teams around the league are chasing the Miami Heat, trying to acquire enough star talent in order to dethrone them. So, as far as the Heat is concerned, their competition will play a big role in the future of the Big Three.
-By Ron Leyba