When Pat Riley assembled Miami's current roster, he did so with the intent of winning numerous NBA titles.
And I'm going to assume he doesn't want that to change.
Riley's goal is to keep the Big Three intact beyond 2015, a goal that could be costly considering the luxury tax penalties.
In 2013-14 and 2014-15, these penalties become steeper for teams over the luxury tax line. And considering Miami has three max-contract players (though they took slightly less than the max to make it work), owner Micky Arison will have his work cut out for him.
But at the end of the day, Arison and Riley know they must do whatever is necessary to bring back LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. They've seen this team get to back-to-back championships, and most recently they've seen them win one of them.
Allowing any of the Big Three to leave would jeopardize the threat Miami presents to the rest of the league. It's probable that the supporting cast might have to change every few years, but they come second on the priority list.
Still, even Riley understands how the new collective bargaining agreement can make it difficult to retain such high-priced superstars over the long run (via ESPN):
I would love to see all of [the current Heat players] end their careers together here at the same time and hang their numbers, all of the players become the godfathers to each other's children and have one big, happy barbecue in the backyard somewhere. I would love to see that. But I don't know if that's reality in today's game.
Like everything else in this world, Arison's ability to keep the core intact will likely depend on money. The hefty penalties for tax-paying teams will come from the owner's pockets.
But somehow, I have a feeling that he'll find a way to make it work. He has to.
Riley and Arison changed the culture of free agency when they signed three NBA superstars to play together. And it worked. And once something starts working, you want to do everything possible to keep it from breaking.
Odds are that Miami's staff finds a way to re-sign the Big Three and keep them in Heat uniforms for their next contracts.
LeBron James went from criticized closer to NBA legend since taking his talents to South Beach. I can't imagine he's going to want to leave and risk damaging his new reputation.
Chris Martin Palmer @ChrisPalmerNBA
LeBron James is the best basketball player I've seen in 30 years.4/16/2013, 3:27:04 PM
Wade seems like one of those players who will wear the same uniform his entire career. This might be LeBron James' team, but Wade is the Heat.
And though I don't know for sure, you can assume that Bosh is happy in Miami. He might be third in the pecking order, but he's third in the pecking order for a team that should be favored to win the title year after year.
If there's a way to bring the Big Three back, chances are Arison and Riley will find it. Because I can't imagine Wade, James and Bosh have any intention of bolting from South Beach.
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