When LeBron James announced he would opt of his Miami contract earlier this week and become a free agent, it was a move intended to send a signal to virtually everyone in the Heat organization. It sent a message to Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to also opt out and make sacrifices to free up cap space (or, perhaps leave, in Bosh’s case). To owner Mickey Arison to splurge over the luxury tax. And to Pat Riley to re-tool.
Over the past couple days, there were rumors that Riley was angling to move up in the draft to select former UConn guard Shabazz Napier, who LeBron was known to be fond of. It appeared that those rumors would not come to fruition when Napier was selected No. 24 by Charlotte, but he was almost immediately traded to Miami for the 26th overall pick and two second rounders.
“I know LeBron tweeted something out in the NCAA [tournament] about him,” said Riley, via ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. “Why not. If LeBron and I have the same taste in talent, so be it. But he didn’t call me on the phone, or he didn’t make a point to me about it.”
Nevertheless, it would seem as though LeBron would be pleased with the acquisition:
Bill Simmons was about equally dispirited:
“I’m tired of teams helping Miami,” Simmons said. “They’ve been helping them for the last four years. Enough.”
A possibility floated by Ric Bucher last night involved Miami acquiring Kyle Lowry from Toronto in a sign-and-trade, and Chris Bosh opting out and returning to the Raptors in free agency, a pair of moves that would potentially open the door for the Heat to sign Carmelo. Unless Heat owner Mickey Arison were willing to incur exorbitant luxury tax charges, this scenario would also seem to hinge on Wade, who has two years and over $40 million left on his current deal, taking significantly less money next season.
Whether Miami would make it up to Wade on the back-end of a new deal, or whether it would just be the ultimate sacrifice — and whether he and Bosh would even agree to go along with this scenario in the first place — remains to be seen.