Originally featured at Hot Hot Hoops
When LeBron James, Chris Bosh andDwyane Wade all exercised their Early Termination Options on their contracts days before free agency kicked off on July 1st 12:01am, there was a sense of confidence that this was the biggest indication that the "Big 3", who in their four years here in Miami have won the Eastern Conference Championship each season and won the NBA crown twice, were working in concert together in an effort to restructure, retool and revigorate into the next era of Miami Heat basketball.
While that still may be the case, as we enter the close of the first week of free agency, there is a sense of uneasiness, panic and worry. The once confident bravado fans boasted about on July 1st from many have turned into questions and fear.
There have been so many rumors and different "sources" speculating many scenarios, some positive and some not so. Starting with early last week with ESPN's Brian Windhorst reporting that both Wade and Bosh were prepared to take substantial pay cuts which was later debunked by their agent Henry Thomas hours later.
We've also heard rumblings that LeBron James wants a max contract which left many to wonder if that was a challenge to Heat owner Micky Arison to start digging deeper into his pockets to piece together a much more competitive supporting cast around the team. And of course the latest scenarios being leaked this weekend that has Chris Bosh involved in possible "serious talks" with the Houston Rocketsand the biggest one yet, that according to ESPN's Chris Broussard, that theCleveland Cavaliers are considered the frontrunners to land LeBron James.
To add to some of the uneasiness, the silence and inactivity from the Miami front office has given the impression that Miami has struck out on notable free agents currently on the market looking for a big pay day and unwilling to take less to compete on a championship contending franchise, only adding to the fear here in South Florida.
The reality is no one knows definitively whats really going on. If we learned anything from 2010, is that any story that perceives to have legs can become an after thought mere hours later. Remember three days into free agency when many thought Dwyane Wade was Chicago-bound after taking two meetings. Now that is not to say I am 100% confident that LeBron James and the rest of the Big 3 are staying in Miami but I am merely giving some perspective through this entire process.
With all this chaos, through all the different scenarios and rumors flying around rampant all over Twitter that has Miami Heat fans heart strings being pulled in so many directions, one burning question does remain...
Do we still trust Pat Riley to close the deal?
Word is both Riley and LeBron James are scheduled for their first head to head meeting since free agency started within the next few days and by all accounts many feel this how this meeting turns out will be the biggest indicator on LeBron's future and the direction of the rest of this free agent class. Riley has met in the last week with names like Luol Deng, Pau Gasol, Marvin Williams and others but thus far the Heat camp has been tight lipped as to whether contracts were offered nor discussed.
If there is one thing we have learned under the 19-year regime of Arison/Riley is that the Heat are one the most secretive and tightlipped organizations not just in the NBA but probably in all of sports and for that alone they've earned the right to be trusted.
Lost in this shuffle is thus far none of these guys have actually taken any physical meetings with teams courting for their services. In fact, LeBron James spent the first few days of free agency vacationing in the Antilles Islands with his family. His agent Rich Paul actually conducted meetings with the Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks and Cleveland Cavaliers. Chris Bosh is currently on a family voyage overseas and Dwyane Wade has been traveling domestically all over the country.
This shouldn't make the fan base feel anymore at ease. Not until there is tangible information.
Good or bad, this week expect major movement in the coming days.