Winning a title validates a lot of things.
Winning two of them validates pretty much everything.
The process that came after the 2010 off-season, the surrounding noise and the challenges have all been overcome by the Miami Heat. They passed the test.
It was all a worthy investment, and the Heat's 'small' approach works.
Now it becomes a question of how long it will work.
Here are the ideas to key in on and think about this off-season.
1. THE SALARY CAP SITUATION
The NBA salary cap for the 2013-14 season is reportedly set to be 58.5 million next season, which isn't as high as initially projected.
Regardless, there is no way around the fact that Miami is in position to pay a bevy of luxury taxes if they keep their core intact.
I'm not an expert capologist or anything, but I don't have to be one to tell you that the Heat owner Mickey Arison will have a lot more money to pay in salary once the expected penalties creep in under the collective bargaining agreement.
According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the NBA luxury tax threshold is projected at 71.6 million. It's a lot to go over now, but under the rules of this collective bargaining agreement, a sliding scale charges team's a higher rate the further they go up and past the threshold.
I don't have access to how deep Heat owner Mickey Arison's pockets are, but I'd assume he can eat this tax, for now. Then again, it's his money, and he has decision to make with his business.
Those decisions include....
2. A BIG THREE SHAKEUP?
Any idea of trading one of the Heat's three All-Stars for any reason other than salary cap relief is utter nonsense that I refuse to entertain. So I will go ahead and kill any notion that I will bring up basketball reasons as to why this team should be broken up.
This team just won two straight championships, and three straight Eastern Conference titles, but whispers about size and rebounding will pretty much persist. Heat fans and logical media might have been more afraid of the nonsensical avalanche of horse poop analysis following a potential loss in the NBA Finals than the actual possibility Miami could have lost.
If Miami had lost in the 2013 Finals, and people used it as evidence that the team should be broken up, it doesn't even correlate with the team's weaknesses, since San Antonio pretty much plays Miami's game and could care less about offensive rebounding.
If some analysts think Miami's core should be broken up for basketball reasons, than every single contender should shake it up this off-season because they lost. The Spurs have to trade Tony Parker, well, because. The Pacers better move Roy Hibbert, because they need more scoring inside. How about the Thunder trade Kevin Durant, BECAUSE IF YOU DON'T WIN IT ALL EVERY SEASON AND YOU ARE NOT PERFECT YOU MUST TRADE SOMETHING, AMIRITE!?!?
3. RANT OVER, BUT LET'S ADDRESS THE TOPIC...
If the Heat did decide to go for salary relief and avoid stiff taxes, the question becomes, should they trade Chris Bosh or Dwyane Wade?
I think Bosh is more valuable, even though he isn't the better player. Given that he's 29, and an interior player, he logically makes better sense long-term next to LeBron James. Wade's growth this season into a great off-the-ball threat helps, but I'd be more sure I'm going to have a healthy All-star long term with Bosh.
With that said, I don't think Miami is going to seriously consider trading Wade. So that leaves Bosh. If you did move him, the hope would be that it wouldn't be a salary dump for a pick, and would return a worthy, starting caliber player.
4. STICKING WITH IT AND USING THAT AMNESTY
If Arison decides to swallow that bill and keep this core along for next season, he can look to achieve a bit of relief somewhere else.
The logical amnesty candidates are Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony. Since Miller is set to make the most next year ($6,600,000), he's probably the one. Under this amnesty clause, Miami can get his salary from under their cap (even though they would still owe him the money if nobody picks him up) and steer clear of the extra taxation.
It's still going to burn his wallet, but amnestying Miller should give Arison some heartburn relief in the meantime.
5. SO ENOUGH OF THE BORING MONEY STUFF
Miami does have a few basketball decisions looming here.
Obviously they won't be big spenders, but a few key veterans on the roster may be on the outs. For one, Allen could opt out of his contract and become a free agent. He makes a little more than three million if he stays with Miami, but after getting another title, he may want a little more cash and a larger role with another team.
As frustrating as his defense can be, he hit the biggest 3-pointer in team history, and fits in beautifully with the team on offense.
And then we have Birdman. The human being some still call Chris Andersen. The Heat will have the mini mid-level exception to offer, which every tax payer has, but if they do not offer that won't have more than the minimum to offer him. If another team caught into his value this season and wants to pay him a little more, he's probably gone.
Other than this, Miami should probably stick with a few projects like Jarvis Varnado at the end of their bench.
After the most exciting NBA Finals in recent memory, you will have to toil in an off-season where the Heat's chase of an undrafted free agent prospect to fill out it's roster is the intrigue of the summer!
6. THE FUTURE AND LEBRON JAMES
The Heat, in total win-now mode, surrounded James with a veteran team built to win, and it worked. Going into the 2014 off-season, where he will be 29, he's looking at another big pay day, and probably will opt out regardless of whether he wants to stay with Miami to sign another long term deal wherever he chooses to go.
Expect the media machine to follow this story all year, so we will have time to talk about it, but all I can tell you for now is enjoy another season from the best player of a generation, and don't dwell on it.
He'll be back in three months.
All salary information was obtained from Hoops Hype.