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Tonight, on a Very Special LeBron

[Note by Steve Perrin, 07/08/10 3:06 PM PDT ] Quick update.  I screwed up the salary cap stuff below (man, that stuff is hard), because, why wouldn't you use a different 'cap' than the 'cap' when calculating the max?  Makes perfect sense, right?  Thanks to citizens Lawler4Ever and bonkrood for setting me straight. And apologies to Chris Sheridan.

Well, it won't be much longer now.  How surreal is this show going to be?  And doesn't ESPN now have to disavow all claims to being some sort of broadcast journalism and admit to everyone that they don't so much report the news as bow down to the newsmakers, with whom they conspire to create the news?  Are they going to have parent channel ABC produce it, Bachelor style, LeBron with a single rose and six GMs in the room?  Maybe they can get Miley Cyrus on loan from Disney to up the younger demographic on the show.  They have a lot of time to fill, considering that it doesn't take very long to speak a team's name.  I see a Hannah Montana song.  Synergy, baby.  Cross-promotion.

If you are obsessed with the story, you might check out all the coverage on SBNation today:

All along I've said that there was no way that LeBron James would sign with Dwyane Wade in Miami.  So obviously, if the current rumors are to be believed and James will join Wade and Chris Bosh in South Beach, the Steve reverse mojo is in full effect.  I also said there was no way he'd sign with the Clippers.  Maybe I should have just made one 'no way' statement, and then he'd be headed west.

If he really does end up in Miami, that's really going to be fascinating.  Three super mega stars and a bunch of minimum players around them, with arguably the two most difficult to fill positions in the NBA (point guard and center) more or less empty.  I'm actually really looking forward to seeing what will happen.  One thing that John Hollinger pointed out today that I had not previously considered - when various vets get waived in February at the trade deadline, they'll all head down to Miami.  We could easily see a totally different Heat rotation in the playoffs than during the bulk of the season, made up entirely of ring-chasing veteran cast offs.

[Note by Steve Perrin, 07/08/10 3:12 PM PDT ] So, yeah, just ignore the next few paragraphs here...  I'd delete them, but that's bad form.  I'd overstrike them, but such a long overstrike would mock me. <ignore>

I'd like to dive into the salary cap for a minute.  Chris Sheridan (who has been promoting New York as a destination a lot harder than I've been promoting LA, despite the fact that I'm the supposedly ultra-biased blogger) goes through an in-depth look at the salary cap implications of James to Miami on ESPNNewYork today.  It's pretty good, but it also has a few mistakes.

The biggest mistake that people are making is in the value of the maximum salary itself.  Everyone (including Sheridan today) has been using around $16.6M as the maximum for Wade/Bosh/James.  The origin of that figure is that it represents a 5% increase over what they made this year.  To be precise, it's:

$15,779,912 (1.05) = $16,568,907.60

That was the proper max when everyone thought the salary cap was going to come in under $55M.  But the other way to calculate the maximum salary is as a percentage of the cap.  For seven year vets like Wade/Bosh/James, it's 30% of the cap, which with the new, larger cap, is actually quite a bit more than $16.6M.  With the cap announced at $58,044,000 last night, the new max is actually $17,413,200.  So when Sheridan says that LeBron would be leaving a million on the table if he signs in Miami (this is in a scenario where the Heat don't shed Michael Beasley's contract), he actually means closer to two million.  Over the course of the five year deal, it would add up to over $10M.  The same would of course be true for the comparison to the Clippers as - LeBron James can make the full max of $17.4M with the Clippers, but he can't make that in Miami. 

[Note by Steve Perrin, 07/08/10 3:13 PM PDT ] </ignore>

I actually think that if a Miami deal indeed happens, it will involve a Beasley salary dump either through a sign and trade or a third team.  In that case, Bosh/Wade/James can all get closer to the full max, though still a couple hundred K short.

Of course, it's already a ridiculous amount of money, and Bosh and James are already leaving money on the table if they leave their current teams, who can offer an extra year and larger raises under salary cap rules.  So if the players already had $16.6M in their minds, maybe they're not thinking about the new, higher max, and they're just content to be getting paid a lot of money. 

Here's something I hadn't previously thought about: presumably, Bosh/Wade/James would all take the same starting salary in Miami.  At that point, Wade would still be eligible for bigger raises and more years, since he's re-signing, while the others would be switching teams.  Would Wade take exactly the same contract as his mates to keep it equitable?  Or would Wade actually be making more in years 2 through 5?  Would he have an extra year?  Wade's a little older than the other guys: that sixth year (he'll be 33 at the end of year five of this contract) might be pretty significant.  Will he be able to sign for $20M per year at the age of 33? 

As for the Clippers, they gave it a shot, and I suppose there's still a chance that LeBron ends up in LA, at least until the reveal tonight.  Of course, it would mean that all the experts, and all the sources, and all the leaks are wrong, since no one has discussed the Clippers as his destination for awhile now. 

But until he gives that rose to someone else, we can still hope.