It’s been a week since free agency officially began in the NBA, and the top players on the market remain without a team. LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade are unsigned, and there are a number of possibilities for each player’s future.
While the All-Stars decided to opt out of their contracts, it appeared after a few days that they were all likely to return to their former teams. Anthony met with four teams, but the New York Knicks were reportedly very confident about re-signing their top player. When Wade and Bosh became free agents, reports began to surface that they did so in order to take less money and keep Miami’s “Big Three” together, allowing James to sign a max contract, and giving the Heat salary-cap flexibility.
Now, signs could be pointing to at least a few of the stars heading elsewhere. Anthony has reportedly been offered a max contract by the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Houston Rockets are willing to give Bosh a four-year deal worth $88 million.
According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard, Bosh is giving serious consideration to Houston’s offer. Adding Bosh to the Rockets would make them a top contender in the Western Conference. He would join All-Stars James Harden and Dwight Howard, giving the team a “Big Three” of their own. In 2013-2014, Houston won 54 regular-season games, and adding a top free agent could make them the betting favorites to win the NBA Finals.
Miami can pay Bosh more than Houston, but the big man might have to take less to stay with the Heat, since the organization is looking to sign all three of its stars. Broussard reports that Miami’s suggestion that Bosh take a pay cut has him looking to Houston as a real option.
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If Bosh does sign with Miami, it could open the door for Anthony to join the Heat. The idea of James and Anthony playing in Miami was reported when the Heat were still in the playoffs. Playing in Miami would give Anthony a better chance of winning than staying in New York or heading to L.A. He’d have to leave a lot of money on the table, but Florida’s absence of a state income tax could make the pay cut less dramatic.
Bosh’s decision might ultimately rest on the shoulders of James. If the four-time MVP wants to return to Miami, it’s hard to imagine Wade and Bosh not following suit. Even though the trio lost in the NBA Finals, they still won the East for a fourth year in a row. Wade hasn't been linked to any rumors, and he seems destined to take a pay cut with the team that drafted him.
Anthony may be a better player than Bosh, but he could make Miami worse by taking the big man’s place. While Bosh’s size and ability to spread the floor complement’s James’s game, Anthony and James essentially play the same position. Bosh was able to become the No.3 scoring option with ease in Miami. Anthony is one of the best scores in the NBA, and it might not be as easy for him to coexist as a part of Miami’s nucleus.
A return of Miami’s trio would leave New York and Los Angeles as the two favorites to land Anthony. The Knicks had expected to re-sign their star player by the start of this week, and his reluctance to accept the Knicks’ max contract offer could mean that he’s ready to go elsewhere.