The $30 mil. question: Will top free agents switch teams for a lot less $?

 
 
  • Dwyane Wade talks to reporters in Miami on Wednesday.

    Dwyane Wade talks to reporters in Miami on Wednesday. "My heart is in Miami. If everything works out, I will be in Miami," he said. Associated Press

Published: 4/29/2010 9:24 PM

The day after Miami was eliminated from the playoffs, future free agent Dwyane Wade talked about what's ahead.

For one thing, he stressed that his heart is still in Miami, once again downplaying the chances he'll decide to jump to his hometown Bulls.

"My heart is here and anybody who knows me, I'm mostly heart more so than anything," Wade said in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "My heart is in Miami. If everything works out, I will be in Miami."

Wade also mentioned how tough it would be to give up that sixth year on his contract that he could only get with the Heat. This is a topic bound to get plenty of play this summer.

Here are the basic rules, which were meant to give teams an advantage in retaining their players: Free-agents can re-sign with their own teams for six years, with annual raises of 10.5 percent. They can sign with a new team for five years, with annual raises of 8 percent. In either case, the raises are based on the first-year salary.

As members of the 2003 draft class who signed max extensions, both Wade and Toronto's Chris Bosh made $15.779 million this season.

If those players re-sign for the max with their current teams, they can get $125.5 million over six years. Sign with another team and the most they can get is $96.1 million over five years.

"Thirty million means a lot to anybody," Wade said. "To Bill Gates, $30 million means a lot. To Slim Helu, who's the richest man in the world this year, it means a lot. So not just to me. I don't have that much money."

Some analysts have suggested Bosh will be looking for a sign-and-trade, which means he'd re-sign with Toronto for six years, then immediately be traded. He'd get the six years and a new team in that scenario.

It's tough to tell, though, if the sixth year will really be an issue. Is the player going to retire in five years or keep playing?

If he's still worth a maximum contract, he can re-sign with his new team for Year 6 at $22.96 million, which means the difference in total salary between those two scenarios is more like $6.5 million, not $30 million.

But that's also the beauty of playing in the NBA, where most every contract is fully guaranteed. If one of those players suffers a career-ending injury or just isn't very good in five years, that potential sixth year worth a whopping $25.267 million still must be paid.

Of course, the money is ridiculous and makes free agency a dangerous proposition for the Bulls. If the player they sign doesn't pan out, they'll pay dearly.

At the same time, it will be tough to avoid paying the maximum for Bosh because Toronto is probably willing to do just that and New York is also likely to make a max offer.

Bulls still in meetings: The Bulls continued to hold organizational meetings Thursday and offered no timetable on when a decision will be made regarding the future of second-year coach Vinny Del Negro.

Del Negro is expected to be replaced, but he did lead the team to the playoffs twice. Vice president of basketball operations John Paxson can make a recommendation, but chairman Jerry Reinsdorf will make the final decision.