Heat dive into free agent market
Dwyane Wade at the top of the list for Miami
For Dwyane Wade, the start of free agency was predictable. He got courted by Pat Riley.
And so did a slew of other marquee free agents who have all found their way onto Miami's wish list.
The most awaited free-agent period in NBA history arrived when the clock struck 12:01 a.m. Thursday, and Riley, the Heat president, immediately sprang into action. Miami contacted Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer and several other players, essentially inviting them all to meet with the Heat — who are loaded with salary-cap room.
"The best," former Heat star and current team executive Alonzo Mourning said hours earlier, "is yet to come."
Accompanied by Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and minority owner Nick Arison, among others, Riley was in Los Angeles for the start of the frenzy. A meeting with Stoudemire was expected to be near the top of the Heat itinerary, with Boozer and Mike Miller also believed to be welcoming teams in Los Angeles as well.
The Heat also contacted several of their own free agents, including Udonis Haslem.
"This is a rarity," Mourning said. "This doesn't happen, man, when you have this level of free agents available. There's a frenzy. ... So none of this surprises me at all."
LeBron busy on Day 1 of free agency
Wade was in Chicago and expected to meet with the Bulls on Thursday as one of his earliest moves of the process. Wade will speak to the New York Knicks and other clubs sometime before the weekend, and isn't expected back in South Florida before the early part of next week.
After seven seasons with Miami, Wade doesn't want to leave, yet says it's up to the Heat to put together a roster that will help him contend for more championships.
"They know what I want to see," Wade said in an interview last week. "I think everyone does."
The plane carrying Riley and the Heat contingent left Miami Wednesday and headed west to Los Angeles. It'll criss-cross back the other way Thursday, the Heat hoping to land a meeting with LeBron James, who's reportedly set to talk with the Knicks and Nets also on Day 1 of the mania.
It's unknown when Riley will meet with Chris Bosh, who over the weekend said he has high interest in Miami.
Miami only has two players under contract for next season at this point, guard Mario Chalmers and forward Michael Beasley.
They've been working out together at the Heat facility, neither having any idea who will be in the locker room with them when camp starts in about three months.
"You don't know who's going to be here," Chalmers said. "So we just have to step our games up. For now, it's just me, Mike and D-Wade."
That is, if D-Wade stays put.
"Pat Riley is a company guy," Mourning said. "He's going to do what he can to make sure the organization is successful. I can't read Pat's mind, but in my 16 years of being around this man, I do know he's going to do everything remotely possible to bring a world championship back to this organization."
And like everyone else, Mourning said, Wade was ready to see free agency start — and end.
"Very much so," Mourning said. "Very, very much so."