4. Miami Heat
Next year, this team should be just as dangerous as they were/are this year. But don’t look now, the “Big Three” only has one more year contracted together.
Behind them, they do have a core of younger players that show promise. Norris Cole, if he sticks around, had a solid season. His real show was in the playoffs though, nailing eight consecutive three-pointers through the Chicago Bulls series in the second round. You can say he’s the beneficiary of increased pressure on Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, but he’s performing. The questionable thing with this team is that beyond that, their role players aren’t heavily tested.
On the surface, it looks like the Heat don’t have any money to throw around. However, that all depends on the Big Three. Bosh, Wade and James all have a early termination clause after 2013-14. Many expect James at least to decline his and see what free agency will offer (The Decision 2, anyone? No?).
If Bosh and Wade do the same, that frees up more than $60 million of cap space. That’s a ton of money to throw around for pretty much anything, including bringing one or two of the Big Three back, buying in more free agents around just one of them, or even buying high-quality draft picks.
With a small, cheap, young core behind Bosh, Wade and James, this team could go a lot of ways depending on those player options next summer. The only vertical way for them to go is obviously down, but when you dominate like the Heat, you can afford to take a few-games hit in exchange for shaking things up for the sake of the future.
But, as with all they do now, everything is dependent on the actions of the Big Three.