Even though teams are not able to negotiate with free agents until July 1st, there is no such provision for players to discuss such topics among themselves. Much like in 2010, the three players appear ready to collectively decide to take less and give Pat Riley and the Heat front office some room to improve the roster in what is estimated to be a $62 million salary cap.
Udonis Haslem has also chosen to become a free agent by declining his player option for next season and will likely take a longer deal for less money annually. Players like Birdman and Ray Allen are also in a holding pattern until the Big 3 complete negotiations. There has also been speculation the Heat could move Norris Cole, the only Heat player currently under contract, to free up an additional $2 million.
Three scenarios are still up in the air with what is expected to be an NBA-record $55 million in cap space for the Heat, as outlined by ESPN:
- The Big 3 could seek raises and push the Heat into luxury tax territory, which does not appear likely.
- LeBron could also presumably be the highest paid player on the Heat roster with a max contract, with Bosh and Wade accepting pay cuts. While this may seem the most fair scenario and allows the team to slip below the luxury tax, it leaves little room to sign major reinforcements. It would, however, allow Riley to utilize the full mid-level exception of $5.3 million and the biannual exception of $2 million to help retool the roster.
- All three take big pay cuts in order to create the most cap space for the Heat to sign multiple free agents from a group that includes Kyle Lowry, Luol Deng, Pau Gasol, and Trevor Ariza.
Earlier this week, the Big 3 were spotted together at the SoHo Beach House, presumably to discuss their future.
ESPN also reported previously that no teams have been able to schedule free agent meetings with LeBron James ahead of the start of free agency. In 2010, he scheduled meetings with several teams including the Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks.