The Miami Heat and Lebron James just won their
first title as a couple. All seems well in South Beach as discussion of multiple titles returns to the sports media world. So how many titles will Lebron win with the Heat? I’m
here to tell you that it might just be the one.
are in a strange position. They created this team before the new collective
bargaining agreement was struck, and the new CBA puts some big time challenges
ahead of Pat Riley, Alonzo Mourning and company. I’ll break this down into
parts, starting with the recent draft, their plans this offseason and, finally,
the Big Three.
Heat swing and miss on draft
were in a good position on draft night as they picked 27th in a
draft that still had plenty of good, cheap talent. They seemed to get a great pick when they drafted Arnett Moultrie, an
athletic big man who could have solved nearly half of their center problems.
Moultire would have been perfect backing up Chris Bosh at the center position.
He is 6’11, 233 pounds with a 7’2" wingspan. The Heat, however, quickly traded
him to the Sixers for a future first rounder and a second round pick.
Why do this? Moultire fit perfectly it seemed, and everyone acknowledged this.
I’m not even sure I can answer the question, but it looks like a money issue.
Even though Moultire would have only been due a $868,600 rookie contract, the
Heat were already way over the salary cap, and could not take on any more money affecting the cap.
Big money, big problems
have a total of 11 guys under contract next season for a total of almost $76.5
million dollars. That is $18MIL over the expected salary cap. Even
though we don’t know exactly what it will be, most expect the cap to be just like last season's, which was just over $58 million. Unlike other teams who
have been shedding contracts right and left, the Heat don’t exactly have that
the Heat could start proposing trades, but what could they could get in return
for a guy like Mike Miller, who is due a total of $18.6 million over the next
three seasons? The answer is nothing. They are better off getting some rare
production out of him than trading him, because they would likely get back - or
have to find - a cheaper and worse replacement once he was gone. It’s the same
thing for guys like Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony. They are stuck with the
roster they have for next season and 2013-2014.
luxury tax level stays the same for 2012-2013, the Heat and owner Micky Arison
will be paying around $10 million in luxury tax. Although they can afford it,
the penalty will keep going up after next season, which will make it even harder
to sign free agents for what they are worth. They will have to bank on guys
wanting to take massive pay cuts, including their own Big Three.
Big Three money problems
could be the least of the Heat’s worries - or the biggest - and that is the max contracts of Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
In the upcoming 2012-2013 season, these three guys will be on the books for
over $52 million. In 2013-2014, that number goes up to $56.7 million. After
that season, all three have player options for both 2014-2015 and 2015-2016.
The player options for 2015 total $61.1 million, and the 2016 totals a huge $65
the salary cap and what the luxury tax will be by that time, this spells big
trouble for the Heat in regards to their finances. An injury to any one of those
guys could spell the end of the Big Three and, in turn, the end of a multiple
championship run. In my view, James, Wade and Bosh would be very foolish if
they don’t opt-in to their player options. Why leave that kind of money on the
table? Would you?
an option, and all you Heat fans reading this and about to bash me all
over the Internet will be happy to hear it. The mastermind that is Pat Riley
could convince the Big Three to restructure their deals, which seems like it
was the plan all along. He convinced them to take way less money when they
first came in 2010-2011, so I have no doubt that they might take a pay cut in
2015 and 2016.
even if they do, they will have to be willing to take about a 25% pay cut each
per year. Would you do that at your job? “Hey, Zach, we are going to have to ask
you to take a 25% pay cut next year for the betterment of the company.” We all know money doesn’t mean much to James
and Wade, but Bosh could throw a wrench in the situation because he would not
make that kind of money going anywhere else, and he doesn’t have anywhere near
the endorsements that James and Wade have. A lot can happen in three seasons in
the NBA, but this could turn into nuclear winter in Miami if the wrong guys get
a big head.
In conclusion, I’ll say this: the Heat are - and should be - the favorites to
win it again next season
. Derrick Rose and the Bulls won’t be able to contend
the way they should, and most of the rest of the NBA is either not quite ready
or retooling their roster. The Heat are almost surely going to win the East
again. However, if the Heat don’t win it all again in 2013, they will probably
not win it again under current circumstances.