The Miami Heat stand just three wins away from becoming one of the elite teams in NBA history to ever win three straight NBA championships. But the talk Tuesday around the association wasn’t about the NBA Finals, but rather what happens after the Finals ends.
New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony is expected to opt-out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent. New York would still have a chance to offer Melo the most money and longest contract, but he’s free to talk to any team.
Anthony has been rumored to be a possible target of the Houston Rockets and Chicago Bulls. Both teams would team him with established stars and give him an immediate shot at winning a championship, something he can’t do in New York, at least not this year.
One of Anthony’s close friends in the NBA is Miami Heat superstar LeBron James, who also happens to have the ability to opt-out of his contract at the end of the coming season.
That’s given hope to teams like the Los Angeles Lakers that maybe they could land James and Anthony together, or some combination of stars that become free agents soon, according to USAToday.com.
While it’s all speculation, much of it may depend on what happens over the next week. If the Heat can knock out the San Antonio Spurs for a second straight season and win a third straight NBA championship, the likelihood of any player wanting to leave is slim to none, according to multiple reports.
Plus, James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh all will be paid around $20 million next season and then could all enter unrestricted free agency in July 2015. Anthony could also choose to opt-in with the Knicks for one more season and join a stellar free agent class in 2015.
The one thing Miami has going for it that the Lakers, Knicks, and Cleveland Cavaliers don’t have moving forward is a stable ownership, front office, and coaching staff. Miami’s owner, Micky Arison, pays the bills, but lets his team president, NBA Hall of Famer Pat Riley, handle the personnel decisions.
Riley, and the Heat players, also has total confidence in head coach Erik Spoelstra who has taken his team to four straight NBA Finals and has managed to meld a team of superstars into one of the best teams in NBA history.
Cleveland continues to go through general managers, coaches, and the owner burned most of his bridges with James after LeBron left for Miami. New York brought in Phil Jackson, a Hall of Famer second to none, but he’s limited by his roster and payroll and has a meddling owner. The Lakers ownership has fallen on hard times since Dr. Jerry Buss passed away.
In the end, LeBron will likely remain in Miami through at least next season. What happens after that, may depend on what Riley can put around King James next year and beyond.