First, a caveat: The Miami Heat are still the favorite to re-sign LeBron James. The Heat retaining Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade is even more of a certainty, so no matter what, the Heat are in a good position.
That being said, wildly varying reports about how much money each star is willing to take indicates that, unlike in years past, money has become a major factor in whether these guys will stay together.
LeBron, as his agent has made known, is seeking a max contract worth more than $20 million per season. This makes sense: The league’s best player should make the most money allowed, if we agree that money is fair compensation for talent (no one in the league gets paid in tacos, the world’s next best currency).
LeBron also wants Miami to upgrade the roster, including keeping his Big 3 teammates and adding at least a fourth option — which may not be possible if LeBron takes the max contract he deserves and Bosh and Wade both get the contracts they want… which are reportedly as follows (via ESPN):
While both players expect to sign larger contracts overall, each is willing to take less money annually.
Bosh is looking to sign a five-year deal worth between $80 million and $90 million while Wade is thinking along the lines of $55 million-60 million over four years, sources said.
Is Bosh worth $90 million over five years? Probably. Is Dwyane Wade worth $60 million over four years (or, $15 million a season)? That’s much harder to say. Considering a younger, more talented (AT THIS POINT, CALM DOWN HEAT FANS) Kyle Lowry just signed with Toronto for $12 million a year, Wade asking for that much sounds a little ridiculous. Save the “thanks for the memories!” contracts for guys like Kobe Bryant, who will probably play the rest of his career out of contention — you’ve gotta take reasonable deals at this point, D-Wade.
Obviously, signing all three guys for the numbers they want would leave the team in a similar position to last year — unable to sign quality supporting pieces. And the longer Miami waits, the fewer options they’ll have: Lowry is already off the market, as is Marcin Gortat.
Wade and Bosh opted out of their contracts as a gesture to LeBron to help him stay. But reportedly, neither of those two knows what LeBron is thinking at this point; instead, we do know that he’s started examining other teams as viable options. At this point, a team with a solidified bench and starting roster that can send off some overpaid assets (i.e. — the Rockets with Jeremy Lin) may be the better option.
What is greed, in a league that makes billions of dollars? What is sacrifice, to guys who make millions off the court in endorsements and investments? For guys who claim to be all about wanting to win, there’s an awful lot of questions about how much each guy will make over the next few years.
Good friends have fallen out over much less money than this — as we regular folks can attest. Could the same thing be happening to the Big 3, after just four years together? We’ll find out in the next week or so.
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