"Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh had his first direct conversation with Houston Rockets management on Monday morning, inching closer to the possibility of a four-year, $80 million-plus contract, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
"Bosh's stance on his intentions has remained unchanged: His preference is stay with Miami on a new deal and play with LeBron James. Nevertheless, James hasn't committed to a return, and Houston has moved aggressively to secure a deal with Bosh, sources said.
"Houston has emerged as Bosh's top choice, should he leave the Heat, sources told Yahoo Sports. The circumstances make the Rockets a natural fit for him. Bosh can play the power forward spot alongside All-Star center Dwight Howard. He can get a maximum contract deal starting in the $20 million range annually.
"And he can compete for a championship in his home state of Texas, where a partnership with Howard, James Harden and restricted free agent Chandler Parsons makes the Rockets a most formidable threat in the Western Conference.
"Houston still needs to unload Jeremy Lin to make space for a max contract offer, but has contingencies in place to get a trade done upon the commitment of a free-agent player, sources said."
More specifically, ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard says Bosh's max offer is worth $88 million:
"Chris Bosh, after talking with LeBron James this past weekend, is seriously considering the Houston Rockets' maximum contract offer of four years, $88 million, according to sources close to the situation.
Max offer from Houston to Bosh is 4 years, $88 million— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 7, 2014
"Bosh, since opting out of the final two years of his deal -- worth $42 million -- with the Miami Heat, had planned to see what James decided before making his choice.
"But a conversation with James about his future in Miami this past weekend created enough doubt for Bosh to begin considering his other options, including Houston's offer, a source said. The source said Bosh did not know whether James was staying in Miami.
"Another factor in Bosh's decision to look at Houston has been the tenor of his negotiations with Miami. Bosh is willing to take an annual pay cut by accepting a five-year deal worth $80-$90 million from Miami. But sources say the Heat have been trying to bet Bosh to accept a lesser deal, obviously so they can have more money to spread in free agency.
"The Heat's 'low-balling' -- plus his conversation -- has led Bosh to take a serious look at Houston's offer, which could approach $90 million as it can change slightly.
"The Rockets made the same max offer to Carmelo Anthony, but they have come to believe he will not accept it.
"Houston will have to trade Jeremy Lin to create the cap space to offer the max to Bosh, but the Rockets are confident they will be able to do that in short order."