Posted Jun 22 2010 3:31PM
The agent for Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh isn't about to put any odds on where his clients may end up or handicap the race once free agency begins in earnest July 1. Henry Thomas is just waiting like the rest of us to see how it all plays out.
Maybe not quite like the rest of us.
"Who knows what happens," Thomas said this week. "I'm curious to see how it all plays out."
The agent with CAA Sports, who also counts Devin Harris and free agent Udonis Haslem among his clients, recognizes the attention being placed on Wade and Bosh. Led by LeBron James, those three are recognized as the crème of the most celestial free agency crop of all time. Where they land could cause a domino effect for everyone else and those teams in the hunt.
"This free agency summer wouldn't be what it is now if they didn't structure their contracts in a way where they could take advantage of their options," Thomas said.
Wade and Bosh are going to just that. Wade has stated his preference to remain in Miami and the Heat front office obviously wants to lock up its franchise player long term. Bosh is believed to be the most likely superstar to change addresses, and Toronto general manager Bryan Colangelo has said a sign-and-trade would be considered if a new contact isn't worked out.
Thomas, however, didn't downplay any scenario involving Wade or Bosh from materializing. Whether that's Wade or Bosh re-signing with their respective teams or signing somewhere else as a free agent or agreeing to a sign-and-trade. Thomas said nothing has been decided on any front.
He did maintain that being on a contender is important to Bosh. The Raptors missed the playoffs this past season.
"It's fair to say he wants to win," Thomas said.
Thomas expects his clients and the several of the high-profile stars to talk to each other during the coming weeks, but dismissed the possibility of a "summit" sit-down. He's confident that the decisions made after July 1 will be made individually.
"It's sort of a unique situation for guys at this stage of their careers to have the opportunity to look around and decide where they want to play," Thomas said.
They're in this position through a good bit of foresight and what was perceived as a gamble four years ago. Wade and Bosh, like James, signed three-year extensions with an option for a fourth year in the summer of 2006. They each had a year left on their contracts at the time and were eligible for five-year extensions.
It was initially assumed at the time that the five-year extension for maximum money was the way to go for the legion of budding superstars. LeBron was the first to see the smaller three-year deal with the option, followed closely by Wade and Bosh. Carmelo Anthony, notably, signed on for five years in Denver, with at opt-out next summer.
"The contracts we did then were structured to give these guys the opportunity that they have to determine where they're going to play at this time," Thomas said.
They also had an eye on the labor situation. The current collective bargaining agreement expires after the upcoming season. A dramatic rollback in salaries, from the maximum players can be paid to the length of contracts, promises to be hotly negotiated issue.
Players such as LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Joe Johnson, Amar'e Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer can sign six-year deals with their current teams or five years with a new team. (Sign-and-trades can be up to six years.) The Big Three can pull down six-year deals in the neighborhood of $125 million.
Securing a new contract under the current CBA before changes are made to the salary structure was key, according to Thomas.
"It certainly was a factor," he said. "The idea was they would have the opportunity to become free agents in an environment where they knew exactly what the rules are. It wasn't without risk. They took contracts that were a year shorter and didn't get all the money they could get. More important was the flexibility they have now."
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