While it may not seem evident, the New York Knicks and Miami Heat have a significant trait in common. It's not their players - both have clearly different talents. It's not Isiah Thomas - he's in Miami, but works for Florida International University. It's not even the rivalry that extends back to the days of Alonzo Mourning and Patrick Ewing - that has diminished.
It's their search for an answer in the 2010 offseason.
Whether it's New York rumoring that they will target LeBron James at this season's end or Miami speculating that Chris Bosh could be a part of their future, the fact is that both clubs are poised to make moves this coming offseason with so many contracts off the books.
The Heat only have F James Jones, F Michael Beasley and G Daequan Cook on contract beyond this season, with G Dwyane Wade and C Joel Anthony holding player options and G Mario Chalmers holding a team option. That totals up to approximately $30 million in contracts under a $69.92 million NBA salary cap - that is if you count the player/team options, which could very well be dropped.
In essence, Miami has more than two-thirds of their budget available to sign free agents and make trades. It's already expected that a portion of that will be allocated for a 6-year, $120 million contract offer for Wade.
As for the Knicks, they have a maximum of $27 million in contracts beyond this season. C Eddy Curry takes the brunt of the salary pie for 2010-11, with a player option for approximately $11 million. Whether or not he will take that option is unknown, but regardless of his decision New York will have plenty of cash to throw around at marquee players in the league.
That frees up New York to potentially offer two maximum contracts to players of their choosing and still have room for a slew of role players. Knicks GM Donnie Walsh will need to rid his franchise of its history of bad acquisitions in order to restore New York's reputation.
So while the 2009-10 season is just starting, the sights of the New York Knicks and Miami Heat front office personnel are focused on a very enticing upcoming offseason; one which may bring both franchises up to elite status or plague their organization for seasons to come.
The money is there, but it must be spent wisely in order for either club to succeed.