When free agency kicks off in about six hours, the Rockets will begin their pursuit of a number of free agents, the most notable of which are LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. Daryl Morey has made a number of moves to clear as much space as possible, and seems confident that the Rockets at least have a chance at each of them. However, with a few moves over the last few days, it seems unlikely that LeBron James will leave Miami. Let's take a look at why.
A few weeks ago, the Heat headed into the summer with just one contract on the books for sure: Norris Cole and his $2 million salary. The only question was whether LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh would opt out. LeBron seemed likely to do so to allow him to test the market, but Bosh and Wade didn't appear certain to forego $42 million they might not be able to recoup on the open market. Both Wade and Bosh opted out of their deals, giving the Heat a lot more flexibility moving forward.
Udonis Haslem also was set to receive over $4.6 million in a deal that seemed more than generous, but he too turned down the guaranteed money in a move that opened up a lot of cap room if the Heat are trying to make improvements. With all these deals now off the books, the Heat have a ton of space to maneuver this summer.
With the trio (LeBron, Wade, and Bosh) reportedly talking over the last few days, these moves seem to be coordinated in an effort to bring more than just them back to Miami. Chris Bosh has reportedly said he is willing to take a paycut to stay in Miami, and Wade will also have to take a pay cut after an injury-ridden disappointing season.
If the two take a serious cut from the $22 million they can earn in free agency, the Heat will have some $30 million that they can offer LeBron and any other free agent this summer. If you add bulldog Kyle Lowry to the core of Wade, Bosh, and LeBron, the Heat start to look like even more serious contenders for another title and a fifth NBA Finals appearance in five years.
Chris Bosh is on vacation and isn't meeting with teams as of now, and there seems little chance that Wade will be going anywhere but Miami, and though LeBron may entertain offers elsewhere, it seems like a fait accompli from an outside perspective that he ends up back with the Heat when this is all said and done. We'll continue to report on the situation, but at this point, Carmelo Anthony appears to be the most likely high profile free agent to sign with the Rockets this summer.