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Next big step for LeBron James’ future: Sit down with Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade

Jun 24, 2014, 6:42 PM EDT

Here’s what I find most interesting about LeBron James opting out of his contract on June 24, before the draft and six days before his deadline?

It was unilateral.

It was not a coordinated move with the two other members of Miami’s “big three” — Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Which is what Wade thought it would be. Rather, it was LeBron sending a message not only to Pat Riley and the Heat about upgrading the roster but to Wade and Bosh that they better join him in creating cap space or he can take his talents to Chicago or Los Angeles or wherever. They may ultimately make coordinated moves, but not yet.

The three had not yet sat down to talk but will this week, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The meeting is expected to take place days before the official beginning of free agency, and there’s an expectation that the Heat’s “Big 3″ will have a strong idea about whether they’ll continue together in Miami before James, 29, can hit the market on July 1….

Discussions between James and Heat owner Micky Arison and president Pat Riley will take place soon too, sources said.

Being around Chris Bosh for multiple interviews in and around the Finals, I get the impression he is very comfortable in Miami, both with his role on the court and his life outside it. He doesn’t want to leave, and if that means he takes a few million dollar haircut he’s good with that.

Will Wade feel that way is the bigger question. He is the guy with the key hand to play.

Four years ago he made a sacrifice to bring these three together, would he make a bigger one to keep them together? He certainly is not a player on the court worth what he is getting paid anymore, but as Pat Riley said in his exit interview he is still a core part of Miami, a talisman of the franchise.

At times in recent months Wade has also sounded like the guy who has put in the time and helped for the franchise for years and wants to be rewarded for that. Think Kobe Bryant style contract.

The question is matters to Wade: Getting rewarded and paid ($41 million over the next two years) or taking a lesser (but longer) deal and continuing to play next to LeBron and compete.

Only Wade can answer that, but in that answer is the key to the future of the Heat.

All three of them will meet with Pat Riley and the Heat by July 1 and my guess is by the time free agency starts we’ll already know if LeBron has Wade and Bosh with him and is going to give Pat Riley a real chance.

Or, if LeBron is taking his talents out of South Beach.

Either way, it’s on Wade.

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