Miami Heat's future as a dynasty under cloud as big decisions loom

All those fans who suddenly became Miami Heat supporters in the past few years look like they'll be facing a true test of their loyalty before they realise.

The Decisions are looming.

No, there won't be another painful TV announcement of where LeBron James is playing next year but the four-time NBA MVP and Big Three accomplices Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have big decisions to make.

They can extend their stay in Miami or opt out of the Heat. The Heat, led by Hall of Famer Pat Riley, have done well to keep the issue quiet during the season and it has not been a distraction for the team as it chases a third successive title.

It is likely James will stay in Miami. It is highly unlikely Wade would ever be shown the door by the Heat - he has been the biggest contributor to the team in franchise history. And Bosh? Well, Bosh being Bosh he won't be too fussed either way but he'd be likely to follow James and Wade by extending his stay in South Beach.

So why all the fuss?

The Big Three may be left with little else. The ever-reliable Shane Battier will retire at the end of the season, Udonis Haslem's reaching the twilight of his career, Greg Oden's knees are a week-by-week proposition and Ray Allen will also consider ending his brilliant career whenever Miami's 2014 playoff run reaches its conclusion. He will be 39 by the time next season tips off.

Mario Chalmers and Michael Beasley will still be around. The Heat should also look to bring their draftee, James Ennis, away from the Perth Wildcats. But The Big Three would need more roster support to continue the Heat dynasty.

There won't be a shortage of suitors lining up for James - approximately 29 other NBA clubs would want him although only a handful would be legitimately in the running - the Knicks, Lakers, Cavaliers and perhaps, the Bulls.

New York already have a loaded salary cap for next year. Their best bet is for James to stay in Miami another season and then throw everything at him for the 2015-16 season when Amar'e Stoudamire and Tyson Chandler will no longer be chewing up way too much of the Big Apple budget.

The Lakers will likely have a very high draft pick to trade to Miami but they have little else to make a package deal. They traditionally don't rebuild via the draft because, well, they're the Lakers and superstars want to come to LaLaLand and stay (the exception to the rule being one Howard, D).

Cleveland want James back. Not just the Cavs, the entire city wants him to return home. Their roster needs a shake-up - either Kyrie Irving or Dion Waiters will have to go because their similarly dominant personalities have clashed. It won't be Irving. If James returned home, he'd have a better support cast than the Cleveland team he took to the NBA Finals in 2006-07.

Chicago would appear a long shot - luring Carmelo Anthony from New York this off-season after using their amnesty provision on Carlos Boozer appears to be their best bet to give Derrick Rose, when he returns from his second knee surgery, a secondary ally alongside Joakim Noah.

James, Bosh and Wade came into the league as selections one, four and five respectively in the 2003 draft which also included Anthony at three. (Oh, Detroit. You had the No.2 pick and you took Darko Milicic)

They'd love to exit the league together in the distant future but that's not going to happen. Wade's knees are rapidly causing him to miss more and more games - the price he's paying for carrying the franchise on his back with only sporadic help from Shaquille O'Neal and Gary Payton before James and Bosh arrived.

Whichever way you look at it, the chances of Miami's dynasty extending a long way past this season appear slim. At best they've got a year or two left of being the team to beat. Then the Heat might find out just how loyal some of their recently acquired fans really are.


Taking it to the poll ... 

It appears the NBL is on a winner with its idea of allowing clubs to sign a marquee player next season outside the salary cap with 84% of the 470 votes saying it will be a success.

This story Miami Heat's future as a dynasty under cloud as big decisions loom first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.