Perhaps no NBA team has more work to do this offseason than the Miami Heat — a strange concept for a squad that has reached the Finals four years running.
The decision by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh (as well as Udonis Haslem) to opt out of their contracts left the Heat’s roster completely gutted when NBA free agency opened Tuesday.
How gutted? Norris Cole is the lone player who appeared in a game for Miami this past season and remains under contract for 2014-15.
The common sentiment seems to be that the Big Three will return to South Beach, though, and Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski cited multiple sources Monday saying that James, Bosh and Wade will give general manager Pat Riley time to bolster Miami’s supporting cast before making their decisions.
"Right now, it’s clear they’re buying time for Riley to go out and hit the market," an unnamed GM told Yahoo! Sports.
"Everybody has their (contract) number and has left a little bit of room to let (Riley) maneuver," another source is quoted as saying.
However, there have been several reports from outlets that Wade and Bosh have signed contract extentions, and that James reportedly is demanding a max contract, so Wade and Bosh would have to take major pay cuts.
But the agent for Wade and Bosh told TNT’s David Aldridge that reports about the Heat stars agreeing to stay in Miami for less money are "BS."
James obviously is the golden goose of this year’s free-agent class, but Wojnarowski reports "an increased pessimism" among potential suitors that they’ll "never get a serious chance to engage James in free-agent meetings and presentations." James’ agent, Rich Paul, would begin accepting calls when free agency opened, sources told Wojnarowski, but is not expected to schedule any formal, in-person meetings anytime soon.
The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn offered a conflicting report Monday night, however, stating, via an NBA source, that Paul will meet this week in Cleveland with representatives from the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns.