A quick 3 p.m. update:
### As ESPN reported, the Heat is expected to at least explore the pie-in-the-sky scenario of acquiring Carmelo Anthony to partner with the Heat’s Big Three if Anthony opts for free agency by his June 23 deadline. The New York Daily News reported this afternoon that Anthony plans to opt out, barring a dramatic change of heart.
But Chris Bosh on Thursday denied an ESPN report that the team’s top players have already started to explore ways to create enough salary cap space to pull this off. In fact, Bosh said he, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have never once discussed the scenario of adding Anthony to the mix or how it can be accomplished. (It would require monumental pay cuts by all four.)
“I think that’s very, very unlikely,” Bosh said of such a Big Four scenario, with Anthony as the fourth.
Of Anthony possibly joining Miami, James said tonight: "Obviously, Melo has his own decision to make. That's not even crossed by mind at this point of the season."
The Heat views the Anthony scenario as a long shot but not out of the question.
ESPN's report said "the team's leading players have already started to explore their options for creating sufficient financial flexibility to make an ambitous run at Carmelo."
But Udonis Haslem doesn’t believe adding Carmelo is that far-fetched.
“It doesn’t seem unrealistic,” he said today. “There was a time nobody would have thought you could put this team together, with those guys taking pay cuts, and even myself taking a paycut. You can never say never.”
PLEASE SCROLL DOWN ON THIS POST FOR A DETAILED EXPLANATION ABOUT HOW THE HEAT COULD FIT CARMELO UNDER THE CAP
### Joe Philbin likes the idea of having Dion Jordan play special teams because “he’s a big guy that can run and is hard to block.” But Jason Taylor, a guest coach during the offseason program, told the Dolphins-owned radio show that there is “not a whole lot of time” to work with Jordan on pass rush moves because a lot of his practice time is being spent on special teams. That’s not ideal, obviously.
“Dion is bigger than me, more athletic than I am,” Taylor said. “He's going to be stronger. He's so willing to learn. Anything I tell him or suggest, he's like a sponge.”
### UM football is up to 14 oral commitments after landing two this week from Texas-based Drew Galitz (a punter who’s also rated the nation’s No. 2 kicker) and Venice, Fla., offensive lineman Tyler Gauthier. Eleven of those 14 recruits are rated three-star prospects by rivals.com; the others are four-star.
### Jacob Turner, 23, has allowed a .330 opposing batting average, combined with an awful 6.38 ERA, but the Marlins are in a quandary because he’s out of minor league options, and he likely would be claimed by another team if they expose him to waivers. But Andrew Heaney (3-0, 2.74 at Triple A) and perhaps Justin Nicolino (5-2, 3.29 ERA in Double A) would seem like better rotation options.
### Dan Bylsma appears the best choice for the Panthers’ head coaching job; he made the playoffs each of his six seasons in Pittsburgh, won a Stanley Cup in 2008 and went 252-117-32 before being fired recently. But Panthers ownership was also very impressed by Detroit assistant Tom Renney in their meeting Thursday, even though Renney made the playoffs only three times in nine years as a head coach, with the Rangers, Vancouver and Edmonton.
If you have, well, Internet access, you might have seen two stories tonight linking Carmelo Anthony to the Heat:
### A Stephen A. Smith story that Anthony and LeBron James have expressed a desire to play together before their careers end, and that they will look into teaming up if both end up on the open market in July 2015.
### Another ESPN.com story (by Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein) reporting that “Heat officials and the team’s leading players have already started to explore their options for creating sufficient financial flexibility to make an ambitious run at” Anthony this summer.
If Anthony does not opt out of his Knicks contract in the coming days, he would earn $23.3 million next season. He must inform the Knicks by June 23 whether he’s opting out.
If the Heat’s Big Three doesn’t exercise early termination clauses this summer, James and Bosh would earn $20.59 million each next season and Wade $20.04 million. They must let the Heat know by late June.
Before we go any further, it’s important to note that all would need to take huge pay cuts to make room for Anthony in Miami next season, presuming all of them expect comparable salaries. It’s tough to imagine that happening, but it would be foolish to completely rule it out, either, because crazy things sometimes happen.
Bosh told me and others months ago he plans to stay with the Heat and he told ESPN Radio’s Dan Le Batard two weeks ago that he might be willing to take less money to stick around.
Wade strongly suggested to ESPN.com’s Mike Wallace last week that he does not feel obligated to opt out and take less money to keep the Big Three together.
Wade has told me previously he’s not sure he will opt out, won’t decide until after the Finals end, and that either scenario --- sticking to the last two years and $41 million of his contract --- or opting out for a longer deal --- would be appealing.
James declined to address his future when queried by an out of town reporter today, but an associate has said the Heat is the heavy favorite to keep him.
Also important to keep in mind: The salary cap is expected to rise from $58.6 million to $63.2 million.
So what would be the mechanics needed to fit Carmelo under the salary cap, along with the Big Three? Here’s how it would work:
### James, Wade and Bosh all would need to opt out of their contracts this summer. The Heat, if it tries to sign Anthony, would become a team operating under the cap rather than one over the cap. It would thus not be able to exceed the cap except to sign players to minimum-salary deals.
The Heat, in this scenario, would also have a room exception of $2.732 million, NBA salary cap expert Larry Coon tells us.
### The Heat would need to renounce all of its free agents (who haven’t already agreed to new deals) to clear their cap holds but could then immediately re-sign them to agreed-upon amounts, presuming they fit under the cap (or to minimum deals which can exceed the cap). When players are renounced, they lose their Larry Bird rights.
### The Heat has one player under a guaranteed contract for next season who has no early termination clause or player option: Norris Cole, at $2.15 million. Justin Hamilton has a non-guaranteed deal at $816,482.
Udonis Haslem has a player option for $4.6 million, which he assuredly will exercise unless the Heat talks him out of it by offering a multiyear deal at lower money. Chris Andersen has an option for $1.44 million.
### Let’s say Cole, Haslem and Andersen all return. Their salaries would add up to $8.14 million. Let’s say the Heat uses the 26th pick in the draft, which would come with a cap hold of just over $1 million. So that’s about $9.2 million.
### During the offseason, the league assesses an “incomplete roster charge” for any unfilled roster spots up to 12. So let’s say the Heat got the Big Three, Anthony, Cole, Haslem, Andersen and a first-round pick under contract.
That’s eight, meaning it would need to assess four “incomplete roster charge” cap holds of $507,336 --- the league’s minimum salary for rookies next season. That would add up to $11.2 million in cap commitments for Cole, Haslem, Andersen, the first-round draft pick and four roster holds. It would be about $300,000 more if the Heat keeps around Hamilton.
If you subtract $11.2 million from the projected cap of $62.3 million, that would leave $51 million to be split up among the Big Three and Anthony. If each agreed to take the same amount, that would be $12.75 million per player --- which would represent more than a $10 million paycut for Anthony, $7.3 million for Wade and $7.8 million for Bosh and James.
It would be slightly less money for the Big Three and Anthony if Hamilton stays on the cap.
To keep this going for three years or more, each of the Big Three and Anthony would lose tens of millions of dollars compared with what they would make if they signed max deals.
### A bit more wiggle room could be created if the Heat deals its first-round pick and if Haslem agreed to opt out of his $4.6 million deal and accept, say, $2 million annually instead over several years.
But even then, it’s difficult to come up with a scenario where each of the Big Three and Anthony could make more than $13.7 million apiece, presuming they all wanted an equal share of the pot. And it likely would be less than that.
### The Heat is not permitted to trade its first-round pick before the draft but can make a selection on behalf of another team and trade the pick after the draft for some commodity (a future second-rounder, perhaps) that wouldn't clog its cap this summer.
### Teams at or above the cap can sign veterans to the minimum, so the open roster spots temporarily being held by “incomplete roster charges” could be filled by Ray Allen or Rashard Lewis or James Jones and others at the minimum. (And a point guard to replace Mario Chalmers.)
In this scenario, the Heat could use its $2.7 million room exception to add a quality free agent who wants more than the minimum, perhaps a point guard (Chalmers, Ramon Sessions, Kirk Hinrich, etc.)
### A final thought: The Big Three each sacrificed about $15 million over the length of their contracts to play together.
To ask them and Carmelo to sacrifice considerably more than that, if they choose to commit to this “Big Four” concept for several years, would be a lot to expect, even though all make a lot of money in endorsements and off-court ventures (LeBron the most, obviously).
Oh yes, there's an NBA Finals going on. Please see the last post for a ton of Heat NBA Finals notes from today.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz