POSTED: 08:04 a.m. HST, Jul 07, 2010
MIAMI — Free agent forward Chris Bosh went to bed Tuesday night seeking visions that would lead him to an answer on the biggest decision of his career.
Apparently, he woke up Wednesday having committed to joining the Miami Heat's dream team scenario.
Bosh has reportedly agreed to sign with the Heat and partner with guard Dwyane Wade, whose commitment to return has long been tied to Miami's ability to land a star player or two during the biggest free-agency market in NBA history. The Miami Herald has confirmed through Wade family sources that he will re-sign with the Heat. A Heat source told The Herald that Bosh will also sign with Miami. Bosh is expected to travel to Miami later Wednesday.
Wade declined to speak with reporters Wednesday morning at his youth camp being run at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Fla.
ESPN first reported early Wednesday that Bosh and Wade have agreed to play with the Heat, which now puts Miami in position to secure free agency's premier Trifecta by adding Cleveland superstar LeBron James.
James is scheduled to announce his decision Thursday in an ESPN specialized show. The Heat has not confirmed the commitments, and messages left Wednesday morning for Wade and agent Henry Thomas, who represents Wade and Bosh, were not immediately returned.
Using his Twitter account, Bosh seemed to be playing coy amid the frenzied developments.
"What's all the fuss about this morning?" Bosh wrote. "I woke up to a ton of emails, texts and missed calls."
According to an executive with another team, Miami is working on a sign-and-trade proposal with the Toronto Raptors that would allow Bosh, a perennial All-Star, to receive the maximum salary of $125 million over six seasons. The most Bosh could sign for without a sign-and-trade deal would be for $96 million over five seasons. The Heat could offer Michael Beasley, Mario Chalmers and/or future draft picks, including a first-round choice that Miami received from Toronto in the 2009 Jermaine O'Neal trade.
The Heat, which entered free agency a week ago with a league-most $45 million in salary-cap space, had already offered Wade a max contract for $125 million over six seasons.
Although Wade's return was initially expected to be a formality, his free agency grew tense after he had two visits last weekend with his hometown Chicago Bulls. But Wade then returned to Miami on Monday and met with Heat owner Micky Arison, with the two walking away from that talk with reassurances.
With Wade and Bosh apparently in tow, at stake now for Miami is the biggest prize on the free agent market: James. Heat president Pat Riley has relentlessly recruited Wade, Bosh and James_Miami's front-office staff met with all three players in recent days_in hopes of bringing all three to Miami for one of the league's most formidable trios.
To sign all three players, the Heat likely would have to trade forward Beasley, the second overall pick in the 2008 draft, to clear enough salary to pay Wade, Bosh and James the maximum allowed, with each likely starting at a $16.6 million first-year salary.
Otherwise, each of the three stars would have to agree to take a little less in salary to make it work.
In Bosh, a highly skilled 6-11 forward-center, the Heat is getting its most productive big man since it acquired Shaquille O'Neal in 2004. Bosh is coming off the most productive season in his seven-year career, all spent in Toronto. He averaged career highs of 24 points and 10.8 rebounds and shot 51.8 percent from the field this season.
Bosh has appeared in four All-Star games, but has been frustrated with falling short of playoff success during his time in Toronto. During a visit to play the Heat late last season, Bosh said he was frustrated by not advancing beyond the first round.
During an off season visit to Miami late last month, Bosh said the Heat was one of his top choices in free agency, but said he had problems seeing how teaming with both Wade and James could work for the Heat.
Wade had been one of Bosh's biggest fans during the recruiting process, with the two dining frequently in recent weeks as they discussed their career decisions. The last time Wade had a big man as productive as Bosh, he won a title at O'Neal's side in the 2005-06 season.
"Chris is a phenomenal player," Wade said in a recent evaluation of Bosh. "You have a guy like that on your team, you have something special to build around no matter what else you got (around you)."
Once Wade and Bosh offer their signatures when free agency signings can commence Thursday, the Heat would have four players under contract with about $10 to $12 million in salary-cap space left.
Should Riley strike out on his homerun swing for James, the Heat would then turn to secondary targets to fill out the roster. Miami had met in recent days with Dallas free agent center Brendan Haywood, Charlotte point guard Raymond Felton and journeyman swingman Mike Miller.
The Heat could also re-sign some of its own free agents among a group that includes center Jermaine O'Neal, forward Dorell Wright and swingman Quentin Richardson. Miami also has had discussions with multiple teams to use those players in sign-and-trade deals to acquire a point guard, shooter and center.
"There's a lot out there," Riley said entering free agency, with Miami failing to get past the first round of the playoffs since 2006. "I want to build this team back as quick as I can."
(Miami Herald sportswriter Barry Jackson contributed to this report.)