As they chase free agents to join with their superstars, the Miami Heat are telling free agents they expect to have as much as $12 million in salary-cap space after hopefully getting LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to re-sign, sources told ESPN.com.
With James demanding a maximum contract starting around $20.7 million, this indicates that Wade and Bosh are possibly willing to take drastic pay cuts to help the Heat add talent to the roster.
This has freed up the Heat to become a potential bidder for free-agent point guard Kyle Lowry, whom they have contacted but not yet set up a meeting or progressed talks with, sources said. Lowry, after talks with the Raptors and Rockets, was taking a day or two to mull his options, sources said Monday night.
Wade and Bosh were each scheduled to earn more than $20 million this upcoming season and a total of $40 million over the next two years. But they opted out of those contracts this past weekend, as did teammate Udonis Haslem, who was scheduled to make $4.6 million next season.
Last week James, Wade and Bosh met and started to hash out some rough contract numbers between them. In 2010, they all agreed to take less than the maximum salary to help add free agents to the roster. At the meeting, sources told ESPN, James made it clear he would accept only the maximum salary number for the upcoming season.
Agent Henry Thomas, who represents both Wade and Bosh, denied to ESPN a report from the Portland Oregonian on Tuesday that said Bosh has plans to accept a five-year contract starting at $11 million and Wade would accept a four-year deal starting at $12 million. If that were the case, combined with James and a representative number for Haslem, the Heat would indeed have the space to go after free agents such as Pau Gasol, whom president Pat Riley called to register an interest with Tuesday, according to Yahoo! Sports.
James, however, has not decided how long a contract he will seek from the Heat and could accept a short-term deal, sources told ESPN.