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Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh joined LeBron James and opted out of the final year of their contracts. Who will Wade and Bosh play for next season?
Amin Elhassan, ESPN Insider: Business as usual. This is what we said was going to happen all along! Why are we shocked? We said the Heat needed to retool, to upgrade their supporting cast ... this is how they can make sure they shop at the mall and not the dollar store.
Tom Haberstroh, ESPN Insider: In order: "Wow." "Makes sense." Dwyane Wade is the real shocker here, considering how he ended the season. Although the timing was not in concert, it appears the huddle earlier this week in Miami brought everyone onto the same page: free agency. The big four is no longer a pipe dream but now a legit possibility.
Zach Harper, A Wolf Among Wolves: I don't think anybody should be shocked about LeBron or Bosh opting out this summer, but Wade opting out is a surprise to me. It's what's best for the team, but that's a lot of money for him to give up. He'll get it back over the long haul with this organization, but he's never making that kind of money again.
Kevin Pelton, ESPN Insider: As with LeBron James, "our next two weeks are about to get much busier." I can't say surprise, exactly, because James opting out was clearly timed to put pressure on his teammates to follow suit.
Ethan Sherwood Strauss, ESPN.com: "Positive indicator for Miami." The worst Heat scenario was Wade opting in and LeBron leaving. All three opting out is the best sign that Pat Riley has a plan to keep everyone under more manageable contracts.
Elhassan: Carnival Cruise Lines, as brand ambassador.
Haberstroh: Chicago. For both sentimental reasons and practical ones. Wade would be the hometown favorite, and the Bulls need another basket attacker to balance the suffocating defense. Of course, the smart money is on him going back to Miami; Chicago can wait.
Harper: There is no other team he should sign with, and I'm not sure teams will be asking for his services. Maybe the Bulls could try to be tricky if they miss on Melo and Love, but Wade is no longer a hot commodity in this league. He'll still make the most money and have the most success with Miami.
Pelton: San Antonio. Tom Haberstroh, among others, has suggested Wade move into a Manu Ginobili-style reserve role. What better place to do so than next to Ginobili? Gregg Popovich would limit Wade's minutes, and though his limited 3-point range would be an issue, Wade would find the floor well-spaced with the ball in his hands.
Strauss: The Suns, where older players magically get healthier and sometimes even shoot better too. Obviously, Wade would need to work on that 3-point shot -- but that goes for anywhere he signs. Phoenix gives him a wide-open offense for slashing and the medical attention for sustaining such a style.
Elhassan: Chicago. It's not going to happen, but if we want to go pie in the sky, signing there as a free agent would allow the Bulls to package a Taj Gibson-and-Nikola Mirotic-centered deal in a sign-and-trade for Carmelo.
Haberstroh: Houston. He wouldn't have to carry the load defensively, and there's a need for a stretch four. The Rockets put on the full-court press in 2010, and they'd be smart to do it again. He's that good.
Harper: The Houston Rockets could be a perfect match for Bosh, but I don't think he'd go there. If the Bulls want to make a run at him and amnesty Carlos Boozer while moving Taj Gibson, it'd be a great addition. I don't think he should do this for basketball reasons, but Bosh could do a lot of extra activities in Los Angeles if he went to the Lakers.
Pelton: Houston. The Rockets' search for a stretch four to play next to Dwight Howard won't turn up a better candidate than Bosh, whose addition would make Houston a serious championship threat.
Strauss: Houston. He gets help protecting the rim from Dwight Howard while stretching the floor in the style the Rockets play. I'm not certain he wants to be a third option on offense, but this would really ease his burden defensively.
Elhassan: Not Carmelo Anthony, unless they can secure other pieces first. Kyle Lowry, Trevor Ariza, Marcin Gortat, Luol Deng, Channing Frye, Shawn Marion, Patrick Mills ... the list is long and varied, but the main goals should be to upgrade point guard, upgrade center and add another high-level wing defender.
Haberstroh: Kevin Love. If I were Pat Riley, I'd persuade the Big Three to take a pay cut, not just for this season, but for the "pace-and-space" prototype, Kevin Love. He's set to become a free agent next summer, but the tracks needs to be laid down now for the Love train. Can you imagine the Love-to-LeBron outlet passes?
Harper: I don't think there is a center who would fit all that well, so go after Kyle Lowry to bring in the best player you can. Otherwise, a combination of Luol Deng and maybe Shaun Livingston to start adding some very talented depth. Bring back Ray Allen too, and even target someone such as C.J. Miles to really give you a good bench.
Pelton: Kyle Lowry. I still think the Heat are best off playing smaller lineups, which means they need more talent on the perimeter. Lowry upgrades Miami's weakest position (yes, even with Shabazz Napier) and could play with the Big Three and play a larger role in second-unit lineups with Wade or James resting.
Strauss: I like the idea of adding Kyle Lowry, because I'm not sure getting a rim protector is realistic right now. Tall players do not come cheaply in the NBA. Lowry, on the other hand, is an All-Star-level guard (in the East) who could conceivably be signed at a discount.
Elhassan: We've done this enough times. You guys know the address, say it with me: 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, Florida.
Haberstroh: Miami. Free agency is fun for all involved, but this feels more procedural than conniving. The fuss here is the Big Three will put their toes in the water, but they won't dive into another locale just yet.
Harper: I don't think anybody is going anywhere among the Big Three. They'll stay in Miami with LeBron and try to fix whatever issues kept them from winning the title. Of course, if it takes giving LeBron the max to keep him, I'm not sure how they fix those issues with the supporting cast.
Pelton: Miami. It's hard to see today's developments as anything but all part of the plan to keep the Heat competitive.
Strauss: Miami. Even before this, it's wise to bet on good weather and beautiful ocean views. It's easy to dismiss the importance of that when we're playing hypothetical fantasy basketball with other peoples' lives, but the living situation might even be a bigger factor than trying to sustain success on one of the most memorable NBA teams in history.