Bosh and Wade have had discussions about leading the team back to title contention without James. Bosh believes the Heat will remain title contenders as long as they keep adding pieces to the supporting cast.
"I think right now we have the correct infrastructure to compete for a championship," Bosh said. "We have to get much better at certain positions, and there's a bunch of things that have to continue to happen. But you know a team like the Spurs, they had a lot of guys that people underestimate, but as a team, they were outstanding.
It all starts with Bosh and Wade being leaders to a younger team that features Norris Cole, first-round draft pick Shabazz Napier and possibly 2013 draft pick James Ennis, who has been impressive as a wing player in this year's summer league. Starting point guard Mario Chalmers will also return, after reportedly agreeing to a two-year deal.
Wade and Bosh have to retake the leadership position with James out the picture.
"I think over these few years, Dwyane and I have developed a bond as well," Bosh said. "I think that's going to really help us going forward."
Next season figures to be much different for Bosh. Bosh is set to be the focal point of the Heat's offense, a role he hasn't been assigned since he left Toronto. Last season he averaged just 12.1 field goal attempts per game, and his usage rate (percentage of team possessions used either by field goal, free throw or turnover) was its lowest in about a decade (22.6 percent).
In late June, Bosh met with James and Wade for lunch in Miami Beach, but no specific plans were discussed. That meeting was when Bosh first seriously considered that James might part ways. Without talking about a plan to reconvene, Bosh understood the three stars would not be making their free-agency plans in concert.
But, even still, Bosh downplayed the significance of the meeting as a turning point.
"That's what I want people to understand: That wasn't like a top-secret meeting," Bosh said. "We're friends. It was just friends having lunch. It wasn't what everybody thought it was. It was more so all of us being able to come together and have a nice lunch without having to talk about the madness that was about to happen."
According to Bosh, James stayed mum about his future over that lunch. There was no grand plan or discussion about how many years they might want to sign for. It was clear, coming out of that meeting, that they would decide their future separately. Ultimately, James took a two-year deal with Cleveland while Bosh re-upped for five.
Even though no terms were discussed over lunch, Bosh could feel something was up. The Big Three era might be over in Miami.
"It was more collectively, the body language," Bosh said. "It was more so what wasn't said. Nobody wanted to tire themselves out by trying to formulate a plan. Instead, we [were] going through making this decision separately. That was how it was supposed to be. We made our decision to come together separately, and [James] made his decision separately as well. We always have to do what's best for yourself."
"It was tough," Bosh said. "Houston was a real strong candidate. With me coming in there right away, we could be a championship contending team. [Rockets coach] Kevin McHale seems to be an excellent coach, and he gets along with his players."