Heat notebook

NBA’s collective bargaining agreement creates dilemma for players, teams

 

jgoodman@MiamiHerald.com

Memphis was the first franchise to break up its team because of the new collective bargaining agreement. But the Grizzlies are not expected to be the last.

With punitive taxes looming on the horizon for teams over the salary cap, the NBA’s Big 3 era might be coming to an end. On Friday, LeBron James suggested that the game’s highest-paid players are soon going to have to make a decision between money and wins.

Speaking with reporters after the Heat’s shootaround at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, James said the NBA is about to “find out” if “guys are willing to make a sacrifice and take a cut to be a part of a winning team. We don’t know. So we’ll see.”

In two years, if not sooner, the Heat in its current form is expected to adapt to the new CBA as well. Whether that means the Big 3 will be broken up, the Heat’s front office will find some other way to get under the cap or owner Micky Arison will just pay through the nose to keep the franchise’s golden age moving forward is anyone’s guess.

This much is known: For Dwyane Wade, James and Chris Bosh, taking less money is an old story. They did it already in 2010.

And if anyone is going to be willing to sacrifice some more for the sake of winning, it might be James. He is the best player in the game, but he’s certainly not the highest-paid — not by a long shot. James’ salary ranks 13th among players.

Throughout James’ 10-year career, he has never had a max deal.

“It’s a story untold,” James joked.

James said winning “is what matters to me. Everything else will take care of itself.”

“It doesn’t matter to me to be the highest-paid player in the league,” James continued. “What I do on the floor shows my value. At the end of the day, I don’t think my value of what I do on the floor can be compensated anyways because of the CBA.

“If we had the truth, if this was baseball, I’d be up there — real up there. But it’s not. You play by the rules.”

FAILED ATTEMPTS

James has never participated in the NBA’s dunk contest and probably never will. But that didn’t stop Wade — the newly minted captain of the East All-Stars — from trying to persuade his close friend to give it a try. It was a massive failure.

“That’s out,” James shouted when he overheard Wade telling reporters about the conversation.

Wade also unsuccessfully tried to convince James to compete in the three-point contest. Again, no.

“He turned me down,” Wade said.

WADE’S PICKS

Wade’s duties as captain of the East All-Stars include serving in a leadership and supporting role on the Saturday night before the game. The NBA consulted with Wade on who to choose from the East for the dunk and three-point contests.

For the dunk contest, Wade said: “ Terrence Ross would be my first guy.” Ross is the high-flying rookie for Toronto who soared through the Heat’s defense for a monster dunk on Jan. 23 at AmericanAirlines Arena. The Heat plays the Raptors on Sunday at Air Canada Centre.

Wade indicated that Knicks second-year guard James White might compete in the dunk contest and added that he would like to see Knicks guard J.R. Smith in the contest as well.

“He’s a high-flyer,” Wade said.

As for the three-point contest, Wade said he successfully lobbied for Knicks shooter Steve Novak. Wade played with Novak at Marquette. Wade also asked Ray Allen to compete in the three-point contest.

Wade said Allen needed “some vacation time” after “all these years.”

James was named Eastern Conference Player of the Month for January. He has been named Player of the Month every month this season.

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