MIAMI – ESPN is reporting Chris Bosh has decided to join the Miami Heat and play alongside Dwyane Wade, citing a “person with knowledge of the situation.”
Henry Thomas, the agent for both Bosh and Wade, did not return calls or e-mails early Wednesday from The Associated Press. Calls to Wade and two representatives for the 2006 NBA finals MVP also were not returned. The ESPN report did not specify if Bosh was simply signing with Miami or if a sign-and-trade with the Toronto Raptors would occur.
“I have nothing official from anyone,” Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo said Wednesday morning in a text message to The Associated Press.
The Raptors do have several sign-and-trade options from teams interested in acquiring Bosh.
If Bosh signs, which can’t happen until Thursday at the earliest, it would be a huge coup for the Heat. Wade said when free agency began that he would likely only stay in Miami if the Heat lured either Bosh or LeBron James to South Florida.
Bosh averaged career-bests of 24.0 points and 10.8 rebounds last season for Toronto.
Miami came into the free-agent period with around $44 million of cap space, not including $16 million or so earmarked for Wade, thanks to years of avoiding just about any deal where money would have been committed for the 2010-11 season.
“We want to build a dynasty,” Heat president Pat Riley had told fans entering free agency.
Bosh and Wade would be a pretty good start.
They share an agent, were Olympic teammates on the gold-medal team in Beijing, dined together at times during the free-agent interview process last week in Chicago and were part of that star-studded draft class in 2003 — Bosh went fourth, Wade fifth.
Now all eyes turn to the No. 1 pick in that class, LeBron James. The two-time MVP plans to say which team he’ll play for next on ESPN Thursday night.
Bosh, Wade and James have talked about playing together. If that plan is to be truly hatched, it would have to happen in Miami.
The Heat lack the salary-cap space to give Bosh, Wade and James all the maximum amounts they would be entitled to receive in their next contracts, so what would likely happen — again, if the scenario came together — was each player agreeing to take a bit less in base salary for 2010-11. If that happens, then they would probably receive contracts allowing them to become free agents again in three years if they wanted.
Miami does have the room to give Bosh and Wade max deals, although would still have to do some bargain-shopping to fill its roster for the coming year, with only Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers under contract now for 2010-11.
The expectation around the Heat for months — for years, really — was that Wade would have a flirtation with free agency, then return to Miami for a six-year contract that could have been worth around $127 million, maybe a bit more or less depending on what the salary cap number for the coming 2010-11 season is.
Wade fed that assumption, saying countless times that he wanted to stay in Miami if the roster was upgraded to a championship-contending level. That rather ambiguous caveat took a more exact shape in recent days, and the Heat were clearly on edge when Wade took two meetings with the Chicago Bulls, his hometown team.
Days later, Wade will be apparently able to say he got what he wanted all along.