An NBA rule that restricts teams from signing players to multiyear deals beyond age 36 would limit Wade to a four-year contract. And assuming James and Bosh return at or near their slotted salary already on the books for next season, even a new four-year, $60 million contract wouldn't necessarily give the Heat enough salary-cap space to add a significant upgrade beyond their own free agents.
According to ESPN salary-cap guru Larry Coon, the Heat have a projected $70.2 million in salary commitments for next season when accounting for James, Wade, Bosh, Udonis Haslem, Norris Cole, Chris Andersen and Justin Hamilton. That number places Miami well over the projected $63.2 million salary cap for next season but about $6.6 million below the expected $77 million luxury-tax line.
One assessment from Coon would make it possible for Miami to use that remaining $6.6 million, in addition to another $5 million within the first tier of tax penalties, to potentially re-sign Mario Chalmers and Ray Allen, along with a late-first round draft pick and as many as three veterans at minimum salaries.
Essentially, a Heat roster set at roughly $82 million in salary would cost Arison a relatively reasonable $7.5 million in luxury-tax penalties -- a tab well worth paying to keep a championship core intact while also making room for the development of a draft pick and flexibility to add veterans at midseason.
In other words, if Wade can stay healthy, the Heat can let it ride.
While the current roster prepared for the Finals, the Heat's front office spent last week hosting initial rounds of draft workouts, with a focus on prospects who could play on the wing behind either Wade or James.
Riley told ESPN.com in a recent interview that the new collective bargaining agreement presents more difficult challenges to navigate that weren't anticipated back in 2010, but he also offered no indication that he's inclined to ask Wade, Bosh or James to opt out and take less this summer.
Having coached the Showtime Lakers during the 1980s and the New York Knicks in the early 1990s, Riley said his expectations are set to see great players sign contracts to play together and "run out the string."
"But today there's a different environment," Riley acknowledged. "And a lot has to do with the collective bargaining agreement, a lot has to do with the tax, so the situation can change. There's more restlessness now than there's ever been in the league."
But when -- or if -- the Heat decide to address their big-picture goals and financial picture with Wade to keep him alongside James and Bosh moving forward, there will be a collective and consensus approach.
"We're all on the same page. We communicate that," Riley said of a front-office staff that also includes team CEO Nick Arison and general manager Andy Elisburg. "We collaborate with one another. There's really one voice that will say yes or no, and that's Micky. As much as Micky is enjoying what's going on, he's very involved in day to day [business]. Nick is becoming one of the best young executives in the league. I've known all these guys for 19 years. That continuity helps you stay at the top as an organization. You may go through your ups and downs, but the fact that we've been together for so long, we can speak our mind on anything. But somewhere at the end, there will be a consensus to what we're going to do."