MIAMI — Dwyane Wade has made his choice. Chris Bosh is still mulling his.
Either way, free agency for the Miami Heat is shaping up as an absolute circus.
Wade told the Heat on Saturday that he is opting out of the final two years and nearly $42 million in his contract, and will become a free agent on Tuesday — the same decision LeBron James revealed earlier in the week.
Also Saturday, Udonis Haslem told the Heat that he will not pick up his $4.6 million option for next season. But Bosh is still weighing his options, agent Henry Thomas told The Associated Press, after a miscommunication earlier in the day suggested the forward also opting out.
“Chris has not decided yet,” Thomas told AP early Saturday evening.
Strange as it may sound, the decisions by James and now Wade and Haslem are considered good for the Heat, since those three moves alone free up about $45 million in what would have been salary Miami was committed to paying next season. If Bosh opts out, that figure goes to $66 million, and the idea of not having that locked into the books gives Miami the flexibility to lure their stars back into new deals — plus have enough money left over to make additional roster upgrades.
“Today we were notified of Dwyane’s intention to opt-out of his contract and Udonis’ intention to not opt into his contract, making both players free agents,” Heat president Pat Riley said. “Dwyane has been the cornerstone of our organization for over a decade, and we hope he remains a part of the Heat family for life. Udonis has been the heartbeat of this team for 11 years. He has sacrificed countless times to make this organization successful, and he is the epitome of what this organization stands for.
“We look forward to meeting with Dwyane and Udonis and their agent in the coming days to discuss our future together.”
So now, all eyes turn to Bosh, who has suggested he wants to remain in Miami.
“We want this to work out and I think we’ll find a way to get it done,” Bosh told The Associated Press shortly after the Heat lost in the NBA Finals earlier this month to the San Antonio Spurs.
Haslem expressed the same sentiment.
“We all want the same thing around here,” Haslem said at the end of the season.
Regardless of what Bosh decides, midnight Tuesday — the start of free agent frenzy — will be busy for Miami. James and Wade could be wooed by plenty of suitors. James has already been mentioned as a target of the Los Angeles Clippers, the Chicago Bulls, the Houston Rockets — and, of course, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team for whom he spent his first seven seasons.
But things are already looking good for Miami, which obtained the rights to former Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier on draft night — and Napier just happened to be James’ favorite player in the draft.