Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The world should be excited for the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat in an NBA Finals rematch.
The two best teams in the league will rekindle a rivalry born last June with an epic Finals, eventually won by the Heat in seven glorious games.
In a few weeks, we will have an NBA champion and whichever team emerges will make some history. The Spurs could earn a fifth ring, while the Heat go for the three-peat.
When all of the confetti is swept up, and the champagne-induced dry cleaning bills are paid, both teams, win or lose, could face grim futures.
If you don't know about the Heat's murky offseason, welcome to reading about the NBA. It's a wonderful sport.
The Big Three - LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh - can all opt out of their contracts and hit the free agent market. This era of greatness could end with four Finals appearances, which seems brief considering we were promised "not one, not two" ... you know the rest.
The smart money says they stay, but the deals to bring them back could vary. James and Bosh are both max guys, no matter your opinion of Bosh. A team with room would overpay for Bosh, who is still a very good player, although he's a jump shooter at this point in his career.
Wade is a bit of a wild card. His body is breaking down at more rapid clip than James or Bosh. He's not quite Robin Williams in "Jack," but Wade only played 54 games this season. Does Wade take a Tim Duncan-type contract for something in the neighborhood of $10 million per, or does he stroll down Kobe Bryant Boulevard and demand the big bucks?
Bosh wants to stay. It's unthinkable to imagine Wade in another uniform. That leaves James, who's been a church mouse on the subject. The Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers will come calling, but I'm still buying he stays in South Beach.
If the Heat lose to the Spurs, panic might set in for the Miami brass, although it's doubtful. Pat Riley is a basketball genius, but it does pose an interesting question - would the Big Three take significantly lower deals to bring in more help?
Someone like Carmelo Anthony seems like a far-fetched idea even if the Heat take wildly lower contracts than the market would dictate. Still, it's an intriguing idea.
As the Joker said, "Let's see how loyal a hungry dog really is." The Heat's Big Three have this big contract left, then the money won't be there, not in this way. They'd probably be willing to take a semi-reduced discount, but not enough to lure away someone major.
With the Heat, it's not all about the Big Three. No matter what they do, the only other players under contract for next season are Chris Andersen, Norris Cole and Udonis Haslem, who has a player option.
Shane Battier has already accepted a job as a college basketball analyst for ESPN next season. Mario Chalmers is a free agent who could command some interest elsewhere, although he seems to be the perfect foil for Miami at the point guard spot.
Ray Allen is a free agent and could be close to retirement, especially with a Finals victory. Toney Douglas, James Jones, Rashard Lewis, Greg Oden and Michael Beasley can all walk. So even if James, Wade and Bosh return, they could use at least a few other live bodies.
And while the Heat may very well win a third straight championship, they have some weaknesses. They are an awful rebounding team and could use help on the interior.
The Spurs are in much better shape heading into next season, but it's not a wonderful situation, starting with one of the league's best ever.
Duncan has a $10 million player option next season. There have been murmurs that Big Fundamental may consider retirement if he gets his fist covered in rings.
At 38, Duncan is still an elite player who has been very good in this postseason. It's easy to believe he will stick around for that one additional season. Duncan's never made a big deal of the money, unlike Steve Nash, who acknowledged he was sticking around for the loot.
A loss and it seem perfectly obvious Duncan stays.
Boris Diaw, Matt Bonner, Patty Mills and Aron Baynes are free agents this offseason. Diaw would make sense for a contract, maybe Mills. The other two are expendable, but losing this quartet would cripple the bench.
San Antonio's bigger future issue is following the 2014-15 season. Tiago Splitter is the only player under contract after next season. He's a nice player, but it's probably not prudent to build the team around him.
Tony Parker is still in his prime, but, at 33 when next season ends, he won't get a huge, long-term deal. Manu Ginobili will be 38 at the start of the 2015-16 campaign and it's hard to imagine he'd still be around. Physically he could handle it, but if Duncan is gone, it's time to retire for Manu.
Kawhi Leonard will be the beneficiary of all of this. He will get a huge contract as he's already blossomed into a fringe All-Star candidate.
Maybe the Spurs intend to retool with some free agents like Kevin Love or LaMarcus Aldridge, who will be available then. Or, maybe they're waiting for Kevin Durant the following offseason.
Chances are, the Spurs and Heat could be back to or very near this same spot next season. But, the possibility exists for a lot of change near the top.