MIAMI - LeBron James headed to the Bahamas on vacation, Chris Bosh is on a world tour with his family and Dwyane Wade posted a photo of a new backpack suggesting he was ready for some off-season getaways as well.
So we know Miami's "Big 3" are going places.
Where those guys will be when training camp opens in September, well, that's the story of the NBA off-season — and the next chapter could start to be unveiled during Thursday's night draft. And here's five things to know as the Heat get ready for the summer that will shape the direction of the franchise:
DRAFT NIGHT: Thursday's draft might provide some clues.
If the Heat take a point guard, that might be a sign that free agent Mario Chalmers is expendable. If they take a big man, perhaps that indicates that James won't be asked to post up so much if he returns. But it's very possible Miami will have no idea what the Big 3 plan to do by Thursday. So look for the Heat to go "best available player" when they go on the draft clock.
DATES TO KNOW: After Thursday night's draft and before the free agency frenzy starts July 1, there are a few other key dates facing the Heat.
— June 29: Chris Andersen has until then to decide if he is accepting his player option of about $1.4 million for next season. Odds of this happening are virtually nil; Andersen wants a raise and after shooting 64 per cent this season, he's going to get one, from Miami or someone else.
— June 30: This is the deadline for James, Wade and Bosh informing the Heat if they are opting out of their contracts and becoming free agents. Each is slotted to make just over $20 million next season and could stay with Miami even if they opt out. Also, this is Udonis Haslem's deadline to say if he is taking his $4.6 million player option.
IT'S DIFFERENT: In 2010, there was really only one formula in which the teaming up of James, Wade and Bosh could happen. There was a finite amount of money for them to share, and the salary of any player they wanted to add — Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem being the best examples — would have to come out of that communal pie. This time, there's countless ways things could unfold. That's both a blessing and a curse for Miami. It gives the Heat front office tons of options, and the creativity could help them put this puzzle together. It also gives the players the ability to make demands that simply couldn't be considered four years ago. There was one-for-all thinking in 2010, with everyone considered equals. It almost certainly won't be the same this time, not with James' stock still rising.
TAX CONSIDERATIONS: One of the few moments where James laughed during his end-of-season interview session was when the conversation turned to money matters. "I like money," James said. As such, it's worth noting that Florida has no state income tax. At his estimated $55 million annual income — including endorsements — he could pay about $3 million more in taxes than he does now if living in Ohio, or possibly $6 million more in taxes by moving to California. Then again, James makes enough to absorb any tax hit.
WADE'S LEGACY: There were absolute reasons why Heat President Pat Riley defended Wade so staunchly in his end-of-season meeting with reporters. Make no mistake: The Heat don't believe he's done. Wade has appeared in 871 games, playoffs included, with the Heat. Among current players, only Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have played in more games and spent their entirety of their on-court careers with the same team (though Bryant was drafted by Philadelphia and Nowitzki chosen by Milwaukee). There's no denying Wade struggled in the NBA Finals. Still, there's many signs suggesting he's not finished, including this: He shot just under 55 per cent this season, the fourth-best effort in NBA history by a starting shooting guard.
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