MIAMI // LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh displayed their first bit of teamwork when they signed contracts with the Miami Heat for millions less than full-market value. Each will receive US$15 million (Dh55m) less than the "maximum contracts" they could have commanded over six years, with the savings meant to provide the Heat with room under the NBA's salary cap to surround the three stars with competent teammates, ESPN.com reported on Friday.
James and Bosh signed identical six-year, $110.1m deals. Wade will receive $107.5m over six years. James and Bosh each will be paid $14.5m in the coming season, and Wade $14m, giving the Heat another $5m or so this year to spend on players such as Mike Miller, the forward, who is thought to be close to committing to the Heat. The Big Three did receive considerations for taking less money; each can opt out of his contract after the fourth or fifth season.
James and Bosh have joined Wade in Miami in what is considered a coup for the Heat, one that could realign the league's power structure. They were introduced to Miami fans in a packed arena. "I understand now that I've made the right decision," James said. "We know what the fans want." In case there was some question, they told him: A "Beat LA" chant broke out, an opening salvo aimed at the Los Angeles Lakers, the two-time defending champions.
The Heat were able to give James and Bosh six-year contracts after they completed sign-and-trade deals with their former clubs. Miami will send two first-round and two second-round draft picks to the Cleveland Cavaliers for James, and two first-round picks to the Toronto Raptors for Bosh. Had the Heat signed the free agents directly, they would have been limited to awarding them with five-year contracts.