Is 9 p.m. EDT the new Greenwich "Mean" Time?

Well, we are now inside of 12 hours until "The Decision."

And the word on the Web this morning, both here and here (pay wall), is that the Miami Heat have jumped into the lead in the race to land LeBron James.

Worth mentioning is that both stories are hedged, the first with "barring a change of heart" and the second with "the Knicks may well find out."

The word from one of my best sources, and it is a very, very plugged-in source, is that nothing has been definitively decided yet.

So you have a right to be worried, Knicks fans, but don't give up all hope.

Just tune in to ESPN at 9 p.m., when James will announce, likely in the first 15 minutes of the broadcast, where he's going to spend the next several seasons.

In the meantime, let's take a closer look at the LeBron-to-Miami possibility. The salary cap implications and complications that would be in play if he went to the Heat are worth exploring.

Currently, excluding Dwyane Wade/Chris Bosh, the Heat have only three active players on their cap -- Michael Beasley ($4.96 million), Joel Anthony ($1.06M qualifying offer) and Mario Chalmers ($854,000). They also have a $1.55 million cap charge from the buyout of James Jones' contract. That adds up to a little more than $8.4 million.

Under NBA collective bargaining rules, every team has to have at least 12 players taking up cap room, even if a team has nobody under contract. Those so-called phantom players have cap holds of $473,604 apiece.

We can subtract two of those phantoms now that we know that Wade and Bosh will be playing in Miami, their salaries yet to be determined. Both stars said they would be willing to take less money in order to facilitate the building of a dynasty, which has been Pat Riley's grand plan all along. (I wrote about it back in training camp.)

So the big question is: How much less than max money would Wade, Bosh and James have to take to make Miami Thrice a reality?

First the math: Beasley, Anthony, Jones and Chalmers take up a combined $8.4 million of cap room, but only three roster spots (Jones counts against the cap but not on the roster).

Wade, James and Bosh would take up three more roster spots, so the Heat would have to carry six phantoms, whose salary cap holds would add up to nearly $2.9 million. That accounts for $11.3 million in committed salary, leaving the Heat with $46.8 million in room beneath the new salary cap figure of $58,044,000.

If you divide $46.8 million by three (assuming Wade, Bosh and James would all take equal salaries), it comes out to $15.56 million apiece -- $1 million less than the max salary that all three superstars are eligible to receive. Since Florida does not have state income tax, the $15.56 million that James would be taking from Miami would be roughly equivalent in post-tax dollars to the $16.56 million the Knicks (or the Nets, Bulls, Cavs and Clippers) could pay him under a max contract.

Miami would then have to fill out its roster, going over the salary cap with seven players on minimum salaries to reach the NBA's minimum roster size of 13. Miami selected three players in the second round of last month's draft: Texas center Dexter Pittman, Mississippi State PF Jarvis Varnado and West Virginia small forward DaSean Butler. The Heat also hold the rights to 2009 2nd round pick Patrick Beverly, who spent last season with Olympiacos of Greece and is on the Heat's summer league roster. If they re-signed Jones (after signing Wade/James/Bosh) at the veteran minimum salary for a player with seven years of experience ($1.146 million), Jones would make up the money he forfeited in his buyout, and the Heat would have a shooter.

Sounds like a pretty viable plan, eh?

That's why the Knicks (and Cavs and Bulls and Nets) have good reason to be chewing their fingernails harder than LeBron ever has as the hours tick down toward 9 p.m. tonight.

But before giving up all hope, Knicks fans, consider the following three questions (which were raised by the source I alluded to above):

Who would be the alpha dog in Miami: Wade or James? (Only one of them has a championship ring, and only one of them has built up seven years of goodwill among Heat fans).

How would James cope with the perception that he needs to hitch his boat to another superstar (see Kobe, and the Shaq shadow that tarnished, in the minds of some, Bryant's first three titles) in order to accomplish what he couldn't accomplish in Cleveland?

If those three guys all want to play together so badly, why don't they just wait until the 2012 London Olympics when they'll presumably be a part of a reconstituted Redeem Team?

In closing, we will leave you with this statement, which was made by none other than Nets owner/Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov when he met with the New York/New Jersey media in mid-May: "If you play in Miami, you are not a global player."