Former Heat player Caron Butler is confident LeBron James will be leading the Heat on another deep playoff run next season.
Butler, a close friend of both Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem, said on Friday that he fully expects James to return to the Heat for his fifth season with the team. James opted out of his contract shortly after the NBA Finals, and Wade and Bosh are expected to opt out in the immediate future. The deadline for players to exercise the early termination options of their existing contracts is June 30. Wade and Bosh are both currently under contract for over $20 million next season, but signs are pointing to the Heat's core taking less money next season to restock the depth chart.
"I think what [James] created in South Beach — all three of those guys — and with free agency looming, and other guys willing to come there and play alongside the Big 3, I don’t see him going anywhere," Butler said on The Zaslow and Joy Show on FM 104.3 The Ticket. "And I don’t see Miami having any slippage or anything. They’re going to be right there. It’s the Eastern Conference. There are about three or four teams that are legitimate contenders on a year-to-year basis."
Butler indicated during his radio interview that the Heat approached him last season after he had already committed to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Otherwise, he might have signed on with the Heat. The Heat could have certainly used him. He said he would consider signing with the Heat this summer, but everything is contingent on James, Wade and Bosh.
"I think the biggest domino out there — one of the biggest dominos out there — is LeBron James and what he’s going to do," Butler sad. "So everyone is just sitting around and waiting and seeing what happens."