Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are partnering together to play for the Heat, but will they be enough to sway LeBron James to Miami?
Ending months of speculation, Wade and Bosh announced Wednesday that they will sign with Miami, two decisions that vault the Heat back into the NBA championship picture and put them two-thirds of the way to hitting one of the biggest trifectas in NBA history.
Wade, Bosh and James all have talked about playing together. On Thursday night at 9 ET, in an hourlong special on ESPN, James will say why that will or will not happen.
"We've wanted to play with each other and we have a golden opportunity to do that. We're going to take advantage of it," Bosh -- the "we" being Wade -- said Wednesday on ESPN's "SportsCenter."
James averaged 29.7 points for Cleveland last season, Wade averaged 26.6 points for Miami and Bosh averaged career-bests of 24.0 points and 10.8 rebounds for Toronto.
They were the three kingpins of this long-hyped free-agent market, a trio of All-Stars who came into the league together seven years ago and structured their last contracts just to hit the open market together this summer, the last under the current terms of the league's collective bargaining agreement.
Now, the ball is in King James' court.
"I expect us to compete for a championship," Bosh told ESPN. "I think both Dwyane and I, we both wanted an opportunity where right away we would be competing. ... We're ready to sacrifice a lot of things in order to do that. It's not about the money. It's not about anything else except for winning. I'm a winner. Dwyane's a winner. We're going to bring winning to Miami."
Toronto and Miami have been in discussions throughout the afternoon and into Wednesday evening about a potential sign-and-trade for Bosh, a league source with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.com's Andy Katz.
The source said there is hope that a resolution could be reached by Thursday morning. The Raptors have not spoken to Bosh about the matter, dealing only with the Heat, the source told Katz. Bosh could earn $125 million over six years via sign-and-trade, but only $96 million in five without it.
The Raptors have discussed a number of scenarios -- draft picks and potential players -- with the Heat in a sign-and-trade, but there remains a chance the talks could break down. The Heat have few options for the Raptors because of a thin roster that includes only one high-profile player in Michael Beasley, whose off-court issues have made him less marketable in a trade.
"We intend to enter into player contracts with Dwyane and Chris once the moratorium period has ended," was the only statement from Heat president Pat Riley on Wednesday.
Wade, 28, said it was difficult to turn down the chance to play in Chicago, where he grew up. But in the end, an opportunity to play with the 26-year-old Bosh and build a title contender in Miami with the two in the prime of their careers won out over his desire to play in his hometown, Wade said.
"Now we can get on the pace of building a championship," he said.
Wade does not know what the terms of the next contract he'll sign with Miami will be, nor when he'll sign the paper. Bosh doesn't have terms of his next deal done either. It's all contingent on what James says Thursday night, and Wade insisted he knows nothing about what the two-time MVP will say or where he'll be saying it from.
Contracts cannot be officially signed until Thursday.
Asked why he didn't agree to a sign-and-trade that would have paired him with James in Cleveland, Bosh said he decided that Miami was the best choice available to him.
"I wasn't sure if LeBron was coming back [to Cleveland] and I just wanted to leave that decision up to him," Bosh said. "I wanted to choose the best situation for me and my family and Miami was the best decision for me."
The Heat still have only four players in the picture for this coming season: Wade, Bosh, Beasley and Mario Chalmers. Miami is in discussions with several free agents, including Brendan Haywood, Mike Miller, Raymond Felton and Udonis Haslem -- whom Wade has played with in all seven of his previous seasons.
The salary cap released for the 2010-11 season on Thursday was just over $58 million, about $2 million more than teams expected, and that extra money could likely be yet another free-agency edge for the Heat.
"We'll see what the best thing is for us to win," Wade told The Associated Press. "I'm going to make a lot of money, no matter what happens. I've been blessed. I'm not counting every dollar and every cent. Let's sit down, let's see what the best thing is for us, for the long haul."
Miami came into free agency with what turned out to be roughly $46 million of cap space, not including $16.5 million or so earmarked for Wade, thanks to years of avoiding just about any deal where money would have been committed for the 2010-11 season.
"We want to build a dynasty," Riley had told fans entering free agency.
Bosh and Wade would be a pretty good start.
Wade and Bosh are also expected, along with Riley, to continue to lobby James to join them in Miami, despite the financial complexities involved for the Heat to make room for all three. However, they passed up the opportunity for additional lobbying during their appearance on "SportsCenter," saying they preferred to leave the decision up to him.
"We all make our own decisions at the end of the day," Wade said. "Of course, we would love for LeBron to join Miami -- who wouldn't? But at the same time, LeBron is going to make his own decision."
Amid a growing sense among rival executives that James intends to stay with the Cavs, sources close to the situation told ESPN.com that James is still seriously considering joining forces with Wade and Bosh in Miami and, during a conference call early Wednesday, had a discussion about the possibility that all three could wind up playing together for the Heat.
Earlier this week, the Raptors reportedly had been reluctant to do a sign-and-trade, especially with Miami, contending the Heat did not have any players of interest. But if Bosh leaves outright as a free agent, the Raptors would be left with, at most, $4 million in cap space to replace Bosh.
ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard and Ric Bucher, ESPN.com senior NBA writer Marc Stein and The Associated Press contributed to this report.