MIAMI--The Miami Heat picked the perfect time to renovate their locker-room facilities at AmericanAirlines Arena. The roster is practically barren.
Their hope is that the upgraded accommodations will next host an upgraded outlook.
Sunday formally allowed the Heat to at least temporarily remove Chris Bosh's nameplate, with the forward's representative informing Heat President Pat Riley that Bosh was invoking his early-termination option and stepping away from the final two years on the free-agent contract he signed with the Heat in July 2010.
Bosh's announcement came a day after Heat guard Dwyane Wade made a similar move and four days after Heat forward LeBron James opted out of the final two years of his contract.
For now, it makes the Heat's Big Three the Big Free, with NBA free agency opening Tuesday.
Whether the Heat stars actually dip their toes into any other free-agent waters is another question, with the lockstep moves indicating a willingness by the three to work with Riley to revamp a roster that ran out of steam in falling 4-1 to the San Antonio Spurs earlier this month in the NBA Finals.
As he did when James, Wade and Heat power forward Udonis Haslem removed themselves from the team's books, Riley issued a forward-thinking statement upon Bosh's Sunday announcement.
"Today," Riley said, "we were notified of Chris' intentions to opt-out of his contract. Chris is one of the most versatile and dynamic big men in this league, and he has been an instrumental key to our championship success over the last four seasons. We look forward to meeting with Chris and his agent in the coming days to discuss keeping him in Miami for many years to come."
Both before and after the Heat's demise against the Spurs, each of the Heat's stars spoke of bolstering the team to contend for years to come. With their decisions, they have eased the salary-cap and luxury-tax burdens on Riley, while also putting the team on the clock in free agency.
While the free-agency negotiating period begins July 1, teams cannot sign free agents until July 10.
For the moment, the only players under contract to the Heat are guard Norris Cole and rookie center Justin Hamilton, whose contact does not become partially guaranteed until Aug. 1. The upshot is an NBA-record $55 million in salary-cap space and other salary-cap exceptions for Riley to utilize in a makeover anticipated to retain James, Bosh and Wade as the focus.
Bosh lagged in his decision behind his star teammates due to a procedural matter, in the end opting out of $42.6 million otherwise due over the next two seasons, the same amount James bypassed.
For years, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has been referencing Stephen E. Ambrose's Band of Brothers military history as a theme for his roster, with passages from the book featured in the hallway leading to the Heat locker room. While that locker room now is being remodeled, the Heat's roster overhaul will require a similar theme.
James, Wade and Bosh already have strategized collectively about their next Heat contracts and their desires for the front office's objectives. While outside teams have cleared cap space in case any of the Heat stars decide to leave--with that external focus primarily on James and Bosh--none of the Heat free agents have spoken of taking such meetings.
The NBA typically frowns on salary collusion, but the collective approach by James, Wade and Bosh does not violate any NBA policies.
Depending on Riley's approach, the Heat either could pool their newly minted salary-cap space for a single A-list free agent along the lines of Carmelo Anthony or Kyle Lowry, or could utilize a variety of machinations to add a variety of supporting players.
The Heat's strategies are expected to leave open the door for returns by guard Ray Allen and center Chris Andersen, but invitations could require salary concessions by those and others who finished this past season on the roster.
The Heat also hold the rights to first-round pick Shabazz Napier, the guard out of UConn taken with the No. 24 selection in Thursday's NBA Draft, and 2013 second-round acquisition James Ennis, an athletic swingman out of Long Beach State who spent this past season in Australia and Puerto Rico.
Amid the free-agency backdrop, the Heat open a summer camp for prospects this week in Orlando before beginning play Saturday at the Orlando summer league.
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