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NBA AM: Should Mario Chalmers Re-Sign In Miami?

Mario Chalmers will be a free agent this summer. Should he take biggest deal available? A former player weighs in on his decision.

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Loyalty or Money for Mario Chalmers in free agency this summer? Former NBA player weighs in

The Miami HEAT are just one win away from a fourth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals and the opportunity to bring a third straight title back to South Beach. Win or lose, the trio of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James has been a resounding success over the past four seasons.

But as the old adage goes, nothing lasts forever.

Heading into the summer, the only HEAT player with a guaranteed deal for next season is guard Norris Cole. The trio of Bosh, James and Wade are expected to exercise their respective early termination clauses in order to secure multi-year deals from the franchise. The remaining pieces on the roster are headed to free agency or retirement.

One interesting free agency plotline in Miami to keep an eye on is the case of Mario Chalmers. The former Kansas University standout has started 346 out of his 439 appearances with the HEAT and has been an underrated aspect of the team’s recent success.

This season Bosh, James and Wade accounted for roughly $57 million of the team’s $80 million payroll. The success of the big three experiment in Miami has been largely driven by veteran guys taking less money to join the HEAT in order to pursue titles as they round out their careers.

But Chalmers is in a different situation. At 28 years old and entering his prime earning potential days, the guard has a huge decision to make this summer – loyalty or the money.

Chalmers’ situation, with roughly $14 million in career earnings,  varies differently from his fellow teammates about to hit the free agency market. Ray Allen ($184 million), Rashard Lewis ($155 million), Shane Battier ($56 million) and Udonis Haslem ($47 million) are veteran guys who have maximized their career earnings and are in positions to take less at this point in their careers.

Basketball Insiders recently reached out to a former NBA player who logged more than 10 seasons in the league to get their perspective on the situation and the professional advice given was clear – Chalmers has to  take the biggest deal available this summer over blind loyalty to Miami.

“If Chalmers has an opportunity to go get paid this summer he has to go and get the money,” the former player told Basketball Insiders. “If he leaves the money on the table now, he also leaves his biggest opportunity to maximize his earnings on it as well. If he takes a multi-year short money deal now, he won’t get another chance at 31 or 32 [years old]. At that point he’ll be in one-year territory.”

From a financial standpoint, the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is driving more parity throughout the league. Sure, the elite level guys are still going to get paid and incoming first round picks contracts are still fully guaranteed.

However, the market for the middle tier free agent has dried up significantly since the new CBA was implemented – and that’s where Chalmers sits.

In Miami, Bosh, James and Wade are going to get theirs and team president Pat Riley is going to continue trying to find  draft gems on rookie deals and luring productive veterans looking to win on the prospect of coming to Miami as supporting cast members.

But for Chalmers, according to the former player, the time is now to pursue a more lucrative opportunity – especially with two (potentially three) titles already on the resume.

“He has to get some real security with the equity he has built up being on these [title] teams,” the former player added. “It is smart business. Any agent would advise the same, considering his age.”

Chalmers was on the books for $4 million this season. The six year veteran averaged 9.8 points and 4.9 assists on 39 percent shooting from three-point range. He started in all 73 of his regular season appearances in 2014.

The latest Basketball Insiders expanded mock draft produced by Steve Kyler has the HEAT selecting point guard Shabazz Napier out of the University of Connecticut with the No. 26 overall pick. Miami has become known in recent years for trading out of the first round to avoid guaranteeing valuable payroll on incoming prospects. Keep an eye on how Miami decides to utilize this pick. A point guard selection on draft night may be the subtle  acceptance from the franchise that Chalmers has to make the best business decision for himself this summer.

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Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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